This morning I attended a  presentation at Bloomberg HQ given by Bruce  “growth is dead” MacEwen. He has so many unique insights I definitely recommend reading his book to absorb them all. He showed some amazing slides on the  configuration of the legal industry before  and after the  2007 crash.

 One interesting “aside,”  focused on the corrosive effect of “profits per partner.” The PPP ranking was created the American Lawyer and is a  metric which is particularly susceptible to manipulation. Yet it has become the vehicle for not only measuring success, but also a key driver of rampant lateral poaching, which in turn has contributed to the cratering of many firms.

One  partner in the audience only half tongue in cheek suggested that it was time to move up the alphabet and perhaps a legal publisher name starting with a “B” should create a new  and more reliable competitive metric for   measuring the success of law firms.

The Bloomberg BusinessWeek issue of May 12th sported a cover “What do you do with 176,000 lawyers lying at the bottom of the ocean?” Howrey’s Bankruptcy and Big Law’s Small Future. 

The article focuses on the collapse of Howrey, but predicts continuing disarray in the legal market. And oh by the way, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that  by 2020 the US economy will create 73,600 lawyer positions and law schools will graduate 24,000 new lawyers a year. This they suggest will result in  176,000 excess lawyers. But is not the real problem that law school are grooming lawyers for the 20th Century Law firm instead of the 21st century law firm?

 Bloomberg Law TV Interviewed Richard Susskind on May 2nd:  With Radical Changes Law Firms Can Beat the Recession.  Last week Lee Paccia interviewed legal “futurist” Richard Susskind who had  a completely different take. Here are some surprising “take aways” Outsourcing is Temporary and  Technology is the Future. We don’t have an oversupply of lawyers we have an undersupply of legal knowledge engineers!

Why Now? There is a further irony that Bloomberg has chosen to enter the legal information market at a time of such wrenching displacement in the legal market… unless Bloomberg has calculated to enter the breach and take advantage of the disruption.