An article about severe cutbacks at a major U.S. law firm, which included the termination of 30 associates and 110 support staff and cuts to partners’ salaries, recently appeared in the “DealBook” section of the New York Times. The piece raised a general alarm about the financial challenges facing the legal profession, quoting sources that cited a diminishing market for “high-end legal services” as the impetus for the downturn.

I would have been more impressed with this article – and with Weil, Gotshal & Manges – if reference had been made to streamlining production methods by utilizing legal project management, or staffing differently to optimize value to clients.

The story, as far as it goes, does little to dispel the speculation that the move was a cost-reduction strategy intended to protect the incomes of those earning 2.2 million per year each. I understand the competitive nature of the major firms and the need to keep stars, but $2.2 million per partner is likely not sustainable in the new reality.

I invite your comments on this post, and welcome any questions you may have about legal project management and other cost-effective strategies.