I was sad to hear that the Gallop law firm plans to close its doors by the end of the month. Gallop was founded in 1976 and currently lists 55 attorneys on their website. These attorneys handle a wide array of legal matters. The website says that Gallop has over 700 business and individual clients.
According to news reports, many partners and associates learned early last week that the firm would cease to exist in about three weeks’ time. Many of these attorneys had been with the firm for years. I certainly feel bad for the attorneys who are losing a job, but I also feel very sad for the support staff at the firm. The St. Louis legal market has a seemingly high unemployment rate and I’m sure it is worse for support staff.
I think the shuttering of Gallop is a harbinger of things to come. I think the big firm business model is fundamentally flawed and I think that business and individual clients are focused on value and specialization. Institutional clients are unwilling to pay high legal bills like they have in the past. Small, focused law firms specializing in a niche practice like immigration appears to be the wave of the future. Top-heavy law firms which are often structured in a pyramid with the top earners reaping the majority of the profits are often saddled with large operating costs, expensive leases and outdated fee structures. Time will tell, but something tells me that the lean firm with a strong focus on particular practice areas will be the leaders of the future.