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Tuesday, Jan 31, 2023
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Law Special Report: New Power Lawyers

The Business Journal’s look at the new crop of power attorneys comes at a critical phase in the evolution of the legal profession. A report in December from Linchpin SEO, a Chicago digital agency that markets law firms, found the first trend impacting the industry in 2020 is a generational transition. As baby boomers retire, it will create a need for lawyers adept at elderly issues such as retirement funds and wills. But it also means a new generation of leaders will take control inside law firms. The attorneys profiled in this report represent that generational shift. These new partners and chief executives will face challenges unknown to previous generations of lawyers. For example, Linchpin mentions technology as a trend. Several of the Valley’s rising power attorneys point to electronic paperwork speeding up the legal process, or email facilitating communications with clients or opposing counsel. But at the same time, Linchpin notes, legal processing and artificial intelligence could replace jobs currently performed by lawyers. Another conflict looms with the way firms pay attorneys, as the billable hours method has come under fire for impinging on work-life balance. “Traditionally, lawyers have been expected to bill at least 1,950 hours a year in order to earn at top salary,” the Linchpin report states. For reference, if a person works eight hours a day, five days a week for 52 weeks, it adds up to 2,080 hours. Minus holidays, the inevitable sick days and brief vacations, and essentially every working hour of every day must be accounted for. No wonder several of the power attorneys talk about the high stress related to their job. In response, Linchpin states, judicial bodies and law firms may limit the number of billable hours attorneys are expected to work. That would “impact the way business is done at smaller legal firms,” the report concludes. While companies on the Business Journal’s list of Law Firms, and the leaders running those firms, face challenges, the Linchpin report foresees strong and increasing demand for legal services. However, the report notes that individuals and firms must focus on specific legal specialties positioned for growth.

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