Date of this Version
Over the last decade, the Canadian corporate law firm, like its counterparts in other industrialized countries, has undergone a profound transformation, the most remarkable feature of which has been the rapid growth of individual firms. Whereas a mere decade ago only one Canadian firm could boast of having more than 100 lawyers, today there are at least 19 firms that can make this claim. Accompanying the firms' rapid growth has been their steady expansion into distant national and international markets. Significantly, even when that expansion has been confined to local markets, law firms have invoked a much broader array of growth instruments than in the past. In place of singular reliance upon the standard practice of recruitment directly from law schools and subsequent promotion through the ranks, law firms have shown themselves willing to deploy other methods including lateral recruitment ('cherry picking'), greenfielding, affiliations,and mergers. Interestingly, while the rationale for rapid law firm growth has been given belated, though careful, attention by legal academics, the issue of the mechanisms by which that growth can be achieved has been virtually ignored. This oversight is curious. By understanding the calculus governing the choice of growth instruments, important light can be cast on the structure of and rationale for the modern law firm, and on the way in which it has coped with the stresses and strains of a dramatically changing market environment.
Date Posted: 17 July 2008