BigLaw and the Profession (and Business) of Law

Section 1, Fall 22

Schedule Information

Enrollment: 19/20
Credits: 3
Days* Time Room Start Date End Date
  • F
  • 1300-1500
  • WB162
09/02/2022 12/02/2022
*“R” means Thursday

Course Description

For many, if not most of us who study law at this venerable institution, the first, and for a few the only, venues in which we will practice our profession will be law partnerships that are among the group of entities that have come to be known, affectionately or derisively, as “Big Law.” This is the group of law businesses generally regarded as the largest and most prestigious firms in the United States and the world. This course will look at the evolution of these institutions from the early days of law practice partnerships, why they developed, how they operate and what they look like today. We will consider the consequences of and reactions to the business and professional pressures leading law firms and the lawyers in them face in the current market for legal services, and how associates and other lawyers “fit” into the vision and realities of these large legal partnerships. The relationships and congruencies between these manifestations of our profession and the culture and society in which they operate will be assessed. And we will conclude by trying to predict where big law firms are heading in the future in light of all of the above. Today’s law students will help shape whatever the business of Big Law will look like in 2025, so having a good grounding in where Big Law came from, why and how it has evolved, its trials and tribulations, and the options and critical decisions that will have to be made by Big Law firms in the coming years will be important for new lawyers and for the profession.

Course Requirements

Exam Info:
Final Type (if any): None
Description: None

Written Work Product
Written Work Product: In addition to class participation, students will be evaluated on two short papers during the semester, as well as a longer final paper to be submitted at the conclusion of the course. The final paper is due via EXPO by noon on Dec. 22nd.

Other Work

Other Course Details
Prerequisites: None Concurrencies: None
Mutually Exclusive With: None
Laptops Allowed: No
First Day Attendance Required: No
Course Resources: To be announced.
Course Notes:

Graduation Requirements

*Satisfies Writing Requirement: No
**Credits For Prof. Skills Requirement: No
Satisfies Professional Ethics: No

*If “Yes,” then students are required to submit a substantial research paper in this course, which means students do not need to submit any form to SRO for this paper to meet their upper-level writing requirement. If “No,” then students must submit a “special request” e-form to SRO (available via LawWeb) no later than five weeks after the start of the term for a paper in this class to be counted toward the upper-level writing requirement.

**Yes indicates course credits count towards UVA Law’s Prof. Skills graduation requirement, not necessarily a skills requirements for any particular state bar.

Schedule No.
Law No.
Modified Type
ABA Seminar
Cross Listed: No
Cross-Listed Course Mnemonic:
Public Syllabus Link: None
Evaluation Portal Via LawWeb Opens: Wednesday, November 30, 12:01 AM
Evaluation Portal Via LawWeb Closes: Friday, December 09, 11:59 PM