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A journalistic charge against partnering firms, but where is the support for it?

Sometimes journalists write something that makes sense to them, but offer no evidence. A sentence to illustrate follows an explanation of “convergence” and gives a consequence of law firms that “begin to operate as long-term partners, offering cost efficiencies and improved service as a result of their wider knowledge.”

Sounds really good, until the denouement: “But, once firmly ensconced, some law firms were able, in turn, to begin charging higher rates for their insider knowledge.” That statement, in Legal Strat. Rev., Summer 2009 at 10, comes with no data, no empirical support, nothing. Higher rates than what the ensconced firms charge their other clients for lawyers at the same level? Higher rates than they did before they became long-term partners, after correcting for general increases in billing rates? Higher rates but less time charged?

In fact, earlier, better research found exactly to the contrary: firms that closely link themselves to a company charge lower rates (See my post of Aug. 5, 2009: partnered firms charge less per hour.).