Share it Please
Most of us are sold on big law firms with their huge pool of professionals catering to all fields of law. They have resources at their fingertips, command the respect of other firms and are a force to be reckoned with. But have you considered what you stand to gain with smaller boutique firms?
Where big firms deal in various practice areas, boutique firms focus on niche areas. Some may specialize in intellectual property rights while others may concentrate on wills and estate law. The staff strength may not be so large but focus is present and it is precisely this that ensures they're among the best at what they do.
Focusing on one practice area means lawyers are able to give their all to clients. In a big firm, finding a lawyer who can dedicate his entire time to a case is tough because there are just too many areas they have to cater to. This doesn't mean quality of work is compromised but as a paying client, you want to make sure they do everything they can to win your case.
A typical boutique firm has fewer than 20 lawyers though the number may even reach 100. What is the defining feature is the narrow focus and staff led by highly experienced senior partners. In-depth expertise and individualized service are a standard because the client list is smaller. For clients who have a lot riding on the successful outcome of an important case, these features become incredibly important.
Today's economy is seeing large firms scaling back on personnel in a bid to cut costs and lower debt. Smaller firms also feel the punch of an unstable economy but not as much as their larger cousins. For clients, this can signify stability especially as boutique firms are able to adapt to their needs better. Consistency is maintained, customer base is more easily retainable and meaningful relationships between clients and lawyers are sustained.
Most boutique firm lawyers will say that it is these relationships that lead to job satisfaction and a love for their work. It really is not just about the money for many firms because they typically charge less compared to general practice firms. Achieving results, maintaining reputation and striving to satisfy clients are all-important. Practically, these aims ensure that the firms are able to retain customers because they have more to lose if they don't meet expectations.
It's important to understand that boutique firms share a collaborative rather than an adversarial relationship with large law firms. Where big firms offer a one stop shop to clients by offering a range of practice areas, boutique firms attempt to fine tune these practice areas one at a time. The two may refer clients to each other too to create a win-win result while keeping clients as top priority.
So, how can you find the best boutique firm? The answer is through referrals and enquiries. Though fees are generally cheaper than those commanded by large firms, much depends on the nature of the case and the firm itself. Pay a visit to the firms and have a talk with the lawyers. Know that a firm specializing in wills and estates will not be able to cater to cases regarding intellectual property rights or others unless advertised. So find out what niche areas it focuses on while interviewing lawyers about everything else.