Growth Is Dead: Now What?: Law firms on the brink


Now in its Second Edition

"Growth is Dead" addresses the future of "BigLaw" (or "SophisticatedLaw") in the wake of the great financial reset of 2008 and its continuing repercussions including: (a) relentless pricing pressures; (b) excess capacity; (c) partner expectations; and (d) the accelerating entry of new "legal service provider" organizations, with all their implications for career paths, the traditional leveraged staffing model of law ...

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Now in its Second Edition

"Growth is Dead" addresses the future of "BigLaw" (or "SophisticatedLaw") in the wake of the great financial reset of 2008 and its continuing repercussions including: (a) relentless pricing pressures; (b) excess capacity; (c) partner expectations; and (d) the accelerating entry of new "legal service provider" organizations, with all their implications for career paths, the traditional leveraged staffing model of law firms, and much more.

Brad Karp, Chair of the Firm at Paul Weiss, describes it thus:

"I read all 12 installments of your series with great interest...twice. This is an extraordinary body of work that reflects enormous insight and ought be required reading by managing partners of law firms and professional services organizations. You do a very effective job of challenging the status quo and your series is a much-needed wake up call for our profession. As always, I plan to share many of your insights with my partners. And I plan to cogitate over many of your proposed initiatives."

"2012 Year in Review: Must-Read."

"Any review of 2012 must begin with Bruce MacEwen's 12-part "Growth is Dead" series, which looks at, and analyzes, the monumental effects of the Great Recession on the legal industry."

"Immediately became required reading for law firm leaders, by the one and only Bruce MacEwen." - Bloomberg Law

"When it comes to the economics of the legal industry, there's Bruce MacEwen and then there's everyone else."

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
A high-profile law-firm consultant offers a grim prognosis, and advice, for the upper echelons of the legal profession. Debut author MacEwen--the president of consultancy Adam Smith, Esq., a former securities lawyer and a writer of numerous articles on economic and strategic issues facing large, sophisticated law firms--warns in this brief, to-the-point volume that top-grossing firms must either adapt to the post-2008 economic reset or risk extinction. He addresses a range of problems, such as the lack of growth in client demand, a surplus of highly paid partners doing too little and junior lawyers with unrealistic career expectations, cost-cutting globalization, ever-evolving technology that drives fewer to do more, and emboldened clients demanding lower legal fees. The overriding question, MacEwen says, is whether these beleaguered law firms will be self-aware enough to reinvent themselves in the face of vastly altered economic realities. Or, like Herman Melville's scrivener Bartleby, will they simply prefer not to? MacEwen writes that lawyers' natural aversion to failure could lead to trouble when trial-and-error reinvention is the order of the day. "I submit that our rigid intolerance for failure is so extreme and ultimately perverse that it disables us from being capable of smart decision making," he declares. The author's writing style is straightforward, engaging, and urbane yet informal and never recondite. However, it may be hard for some readers to weep for lawyers earning, by MacEwen's reckoning, an average of $1.4 million a year--and feeling they are worth more. The book's audience may include law-firm principals, law school graduates and students looking for a way in through the closing door, and pre-law students who might want to rethink their career choice--as well as readers who don't like lawyers and delight in their agonies. An authoritative, if narrowly directed, look at Big Law.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781481896047
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
  • Publication date: 1/29/2013
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 128
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.27 (d)

Meet the Author

Bruce is President of Adam Smith, Esq. (, which provides high end consulting services to the legal profession on strategic, financial, and economic issues. Based in New York, Adam Smith, Esq. operates globally.

From its inception, Bruce has served as publisher of the online publication, "Adam Smith, Esq." covering such topics as strategy, leadership, globalization, M&A, finance, compensation, cultural considerations and partnership structures.

Bruce has written for or been quoted in: Fortune; The Wall Street Journal; The New York Times; Bloomberg News/Radio/TV; Business 2.0; The International Herald Tribune; The National Law Journal; The ABA Journal; and other publications and media too numerous to mention, and frequently appears as a speaker or panelist at law firm partner retreats and off-sites and at legal industry conferences domestically and abroad.

He is a fellow of the College of Law Practice Management, and has lectured at law schools including Georgetown, Harvard, and NYU.

Previously, he:

  • practiced securities law in-house for nearly ten years at Morgan Stanley/Dean Witter in New York;
  • and
  • practiced corporate law with Shea & Gould and with Breed, Abbott & Morgan in New York.

Bruce was educated at Princeton University (BA magna cum laude in economics), at Stanford Law School (JD), and at NYU's Stern School of Business (MBA candidate in finance). He lives on Manhattan's Upper West Side with his wife and their dog.

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