BigLaw and the Profession (and Business) of Law
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.
*Yes means professor requires everyone in the course to submit a substantial research paper (which is the requirement standard in Academic Policies), so no paperwork required to be submitted to SRO. No means student must timely submit paperwork to SRO if intending to use a paper in this course to satisfy the 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.