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The Law Firm of the Future

Adapting to a Changed Legal Marketplace

John M. Westcott

During the “golden age of law firm growth” from the late 1960s until 2007, most large law firms adopted a default growth strategy, increasing practice areas and offices, aided by the momentum of the tail winds of law firm growth. Since the recession of 2008-2009, however, the legal marketplace has drastically changed. In this timely book, Jay Westcott suggests strategic building blocks that firms can adopt in order to adapt themselves to this radical change and prosper as lasting institutions.
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About the author

John M. Westcott

Jay Westcott served for over 30 years in the management of Hale and Dorr and WilmerHale, as the firm’s Assistant Managing Partner and a member of the executive committee and the management committee. He was also a corporate lawyer, counseling corporate clients and their management on financing, governance, and transactional matters, including public and private offerings, licensing transactions, and mergers and acquisitions. Mr. Westcott retired as a partner of WilmerHale at the end of 2012.

In October, 2013, his first book, Fundamentals of Law Firm Management, was published by Thomson Reuters/West. In that book, he analyzes the many elements required to manage today’s law firm effectively. In his second book, Dividing the Pie: An Analysis of Law Firm Compensation Systems, published by Thomson Reuters/West in February, 2015, he studies the methods law firms of all sizes use to compensate partners, associates and support staff. In this book, The Law Firm of the Future, he recounts the evolution of the legal profession over the last 50 years and offers a strategy for large law firms to succeed in the much more competitive legal marketplace which has existed since 2009.

Mr. Westcott graduated from law school in 1969 and immediately joined Hale and Dorr, which was then one of the largest law firms in Boston at 60 lawyers. Hale and Dorr grew steadily to 500 lawyers by 2004, when it merged with Wilmer Cutler Pickering, also roughly 500 lawyers, to form WilmerHale, an international firm with 1,000 lawyers. In 2008–2009, during the first five years of the merged firms’ operations, the business downturn hit the economy, and the legal marketplace quickly changed to a much more competitive one in which the client had the upper hand. In this book, Mr. Westcott analyzes the long period of sustained law firm growth and the many changes that took place in the legal profession during that sustained favorable market; he also recommends strategies for dealing with the much more competitive legal marketplace today. He projects the future evolution of the legal profession and recommends strategies for law firms to deal with a very different landscape.

Mr. Westcott is the principal consultant of Westcott Legal Consulting LLC. He consults with law firms, legal departments, and lawyers on a broad range of management issues, including compensation systems, governance, and strategy. He has spoken extensively at conferences on law firm management issues, including partner compensation, financial discipline, practice management, governance, pricing legal services, and risk management.

Mr. Westcott graduated from Yale University (B.A. English, cum laude) and Harvard Law School (J.D.). He lives with his wife in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts and has three grown children. For 29 years, from 1989 until his resignation in 2018, he served as Clerk and a Trustee of The Winsor School, an independent girls’ day school in Boston.