Jason Calacanis, Meet the Current State of the Legal Profession

December 7th, 2009

I don’t generally write about the business of lawyering, but a few things came together recently that I want to make note of to readers.

First, those who don’t follow legal news should be aware that 2008-09 has been brutal for the legal profession. The best summary I can find is this chart, showing well over 100,000 jobs lost at big law firms since the start of 2008.

(image courtesy lawshucks.com)

Most recently, the entire US economy lost 11,000 jobs in November, of which 2,900 were in the legal profession.  As a friend put it, the legal industry is “shrinking faster than any that I can think of“.

Into this environment steps Jason Calacanis, who last week announced plans for his Open Angel Forum.  The forum is a great idea and I certainly wish him well with it.  Here is the part that rubs me the wrong way, though:

The organization is charging a small group of service providers $1,500 each to attend.

I certainly understand the concept here.  My old firm used to run an event we called Angel Law Forum for entrepreneurs and service providers would routinely outnumber entrepreneurs and investors.

To say that lawyers can easily afford it, though, is comical for two reasons:

1)  Easily is the wrong word. Lawyers (and other service providers) are struggling along with everyone else this year;

2) Jason doesn’t seem to have worked through his own math.  The only way any service provider can afford a $1,500 seat at a networking dinner is by charging high rates to clients.

As I said in my comment on the OAF’s announcement (awaiting approval as of this writing), I hope the event goes superbly and I look forward to hearing great things about it. In the meantime, I will be attending cheapie networking events so that I can keep my rates low.

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  • Easily may be appropiate if he is only interested in attracting very experienced lawyers(whom may or may not need the business) or large firms. To me, as a start up I need personal attention. I need someone I can call about multiple matters and whom is willing to work with me on both pricing and time now and into the future given the state of the economy. I need those things more then I need a $200 dinner/recruiting event.

  • rsayre

    Great post. I think you have exactly the right perspective. Small, efficient firms that provide personalized, cost-effective service (which I believe characterizes your firm) are well positioned in this market. On the east coast, I see a lot of work fleeing the high-cost firms as clients become more cost conscious. Are potential clients that see the sponsoring firms pitched as big-spending fat cats really going to be motivated to squander their hard-earned resources to support this kind of excess? I doubt it. Hopefully, some will see this blog post if they do not readily see through this charade.

  • rsayre

    Great post. I think you have exactly the right perspective. Small, efficient firms that provide personalized, cost-effective service (which I believe characterizes your firm) are well positioned in this market. On the east coast, I see a lot of work fleeing the high-cost firms as clients become more cost conscious. Are potential clients that see the sponsoring firms pitched as big-spending fat cats really going to be motivated to squander their hard-earned resources to support this kind of excess? I doubt it. Hopefully, some will see this blog post if they do not readily see through this charade.