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The Big Four and the Real Global Legal Market

Many recent articles on legal market share have focused on the threat of the re-emergence of Big 4 in the legal profession. The fear results from the fact the Big 4 has both a global network and daily contact with most of the largest companies. Is this a real threat or an imagined one?

In 2002 I wrote and edited a book for ALM, Multidisciplinary Practices and Partnerships: Lawyers, Consultants, and Clients with a dozen other authors. (Unfortunately, one month after publishing it Sarbanes- Oxley was passed. The books sold 247 copies earning $478 in royalties.) I, however, learned that firm growth was not always about market presence itself, but about developing a recognized cost-effective delivery system of information to the potential client.

The Big 4 and the largest firms combine delivery of information and legal practices to create recognized brands. Today it is possible to separate delivery of information from legal practices. In other words market share can be developed without the burden of developing a legal practice through providing information that places potential business clients in direct contact with vetted firms and lawyers. The potential client can then make their own evaluation of the lawyer’s expertise and comparative cost in real-time.

An example in retail is Amazon. They have adopted a model of consolidating multiple products and services under one roof by making information available. Its market share is unlimited because it concentrates on information distribution first, and then distribution of others’ products. The result is that the retail industry has been rocked by this change in the information distribution structure. Take for example Toys R Us, who has filed for bankruptcy for its 1,600 stores. It could not offer the same broad choices or a cost-effective delivery system for a single product line. Why go to a store when the same toy is available on Amazon for a lesser price, and it is delivered the next day to your home for free?

On October 2, 2017, the 50 largest networks will acquire 17.1% of the global legal services by offering the legal profession real-time, seamless, global, cost-free access to the expertise of 300,000 attorneys in 3,500 firms in 150 countries. It will eliminate the systemic issues in the legal profession which limit development of market share by combing legal practice and brand creation. The result is illustrated in 2018 The Global Legal Market (or click the report/flipbook).

Our website, Locate Law Networks (see below), is similar to Amazon which brings together legal products and services. Also like Amazon, additional services such as LPO, litigation financing, or technical services are easily incorporated at virtually no cost. Unlike the three other models (Big 4, vereins and Big Law), expertise is directly accessible from firms in minutes anywhere on earth through Requests for Qualifications (RFQ). Contrast this with the Big 4 (Where do they offer legal services? What services? Who knows?) or the largest firms/vereins (How does one know if they have office in a state or country without going to 20 websites?)

With LLN data everyone can see which networks have a member in a country with one click. RFQ makes comparative expertise and direct real-time pricing accessible in minutes on second, third or fourth generation firms who collectively have 300,000 lawyers in 5,000 offices in 150 countries. LLN and RFQ are available at no cost to included network member firms and to RFQ users. This transforms the legal market to real-time comparative analysis of expertise and cost information, rather than resting the almost impossible brand differentiation in what will continue to be a fragmented legal services with or without the Big 4.

The reality is that the Big 4 are simply being added to the two dozen

(Click on the report/flipbook to read it)


About the Author

Stephen McGarry, B.A., M.A., J.D., and LL.M. (Taxation), founded World Services Group (WSG), a multidisciplinary network, in 2002. As president he grew it to 150 firms that have 21,000 professionals in 600 offices in more than 100 countries. In 1989 McGarry founded Lex Mundi, the world’s largest law firm network. As president he grew it to 160 law firms that today have 21,000 attorneys in 600 offices in 100-plus countries. These two networks represent 2 percent of all the lawyers on earth whose members bill their clients an estimated $20 billion dollars annually. In 1995 he founded, one of the first legal websites. Today it is among the world’s largest sites with more than 10 million pages and 1.3 million unique users each month who download almost 2 million pages. In 2015 McGarry initiated with the Association of International Law Firm Networks, or AILFN, an association of the leading law firm networks whose members will have more than 300,000 lawyers in 5,000 offices, billing clients $120 billion dollars annually. McGarry is admitted by exam to the bars of Minnesota, Texas, and Louisiana. In 2002 American Lawyer Media (ALM) published McGarry’s treatise, Multidisciplinary Practices and Partnerships. McGarry has authored numerous articles on associations and international business transactions. His most recent publication, Leaders in Legal Business (2015), has been downloaded more than 15,000 times.

Click on the website to go to Locate Law Networks

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