Law firms and their cultures began to change long before COVID-19 hit. The pandemic has only accelerated the shift.
Many factors including, but certainly not limited to, changing norms, technology, mergers, increased focus on profits, the retirement of senior partners and the rise of non-equity partnerships have irrevocably transformed the old model. “The traditional law firm took care of its attorneys,” said Jacalyn Birnbaum, of the Chicago-area family law firm Birnbaum Haddon Gelfman & Arnoux, LLC. “There’s no daddy looking after anyone now.”
Birnbaum believes today’s lawyers need a work environment that allows them to be independent yet supported by a team that can handle the many administrative burdens of running a practice. In 2011, upon the break-up of their old law firm, Birnbaum and her current partners didn’t realize such a combination was possible.
Until on a Friday morning in late May of 2011, when Jackie serendipitously visited the new Amata office of a childhood friend who had just relocated her law practice to the 37th Floor of 180 North LaSalle Street – one of Amata’s seven attorney focused Chicagoland communities.
“Amata was the perfect, turn-key solution.” Indeed, by the following Thursday, Jackie and her partners had made all necessary arrangements. BHGA, LLC was up and running as of August 1, 2011. It’s still growing.
With Amata responsible for administrative tasks – including managing reception and other shared areas, working with building management, and now, implementing COVID-19 safety measures – Birnbaum feels liberated. She finds the Amata environment has more in common with a business incubator than with typical leased office space. “Amata lets you breathe so you can focus on the practice of law,” she said.
That breathing room fosters civility and openness. Amata lawyers get to know each other organically, connections are made, and a sense of community takes root. Birnbaum said she and other lawyers on her floor routinely interact and often form close friendships. Moreover, each Amata community includes attorneys in varied areas of practice and easy access to their special expertise, she says, is welcome and helpful.
For many lawyers, the need for a community of peers has been heightened in recent months: meetings and court appearances have gone virtual; law firms have responded to COVID-19 with layoffs, pay cuts, and other cost-cutting measures. In this uncertain climate, lawyers are seeking new ways to build and grow sophisticated practices.
As the legal landscape continues to evolve, Birnbaum recognizes and appreciates the value of the Amata community. “With law firms facing current economic realities, Amata came upon a business model that is perfectly attuned to these times.”
Call us today to learn how our virtual offices can help you successfully go solo with your law practice.
- The Future of the Large Law Firm: Growth, Mergers and Inequality: https://clsbluesky.law.columbia.edu/2020/01/06/the-future-of-the-large-law-firm-growth-mergers-and-inequality/
- Being a Law Firm Partner Was Once a Job for Life. That Culture is All but Dead: https://www.wsj.com/articles/being-a-law-firm-partner-was-once-a-job-for-life-that-culture-is-all-but-dead-11565362437