September 23, 2009 12:06 PM
Leaving the Big Firm and Lowering Rates: Is Success Really So Simple?
Posted by Zach Lowe
Big-firm partners dreaming of going out on their own might wonder if starting a successful firm is really as simple as charging clients lower rates. That seems to be the winning formula for three former Irell & Manella partners who left the firm in May to set up their own boutique along with six associates, according to this story in the The National Law Journal, an Am Law Daily sibling publication.
The partners--Richard Kendall, Laura Brill, and Robert Klieger--started Kendall Brill & Klieger partly because many of their clients at Irell were growing frustrated with the firm's high billing rates, the NLJ reports. So the three partners left and made a commitment to offering lower rates and more alternative fee arrangements to their Hollywood studio and media clients.
The response? Every one of their major clients came with them, plus some new ones they picked up on their own, including MGM Studios, Electronic Arts and Best Buy.
The general counsel at CBS Television explains his decision to move business from Irell to the new boutique this way: "We hire lawyers, not law firms. [Kendall's] ability to work within a different rate structure I think bodes well for additional matters coming his way."
Other general counsel the NLJ interviewed expressed relief at being able to contact associates working on their cases more easily because there are only six associates at the new boutique and all of them are deeply involved in client matters.
Will more partners at large law firms take the same leap of faith? Perhaps the Irell trio provides some inspiration.