Franchise Law Firms and the Transformation of Personal Legal Services

Front Cover
Greenwood Publishing Group, 1997 - Business & Economics - 156 pages

As lawyers, legal scholars, and academics throughout the social sciences debate the future of legal work and the legal profession itself, they turn their attention inevitably to the rise of the franchise law firms. Founded in response to the changing market for legal services, franchise law firms have grown dramatically in recent years, but at what cost to clients and lawyers alike? This book focuses on how professional organizations (and the related work experience) are influenced by economics and the way various firms have excelled by mass producing a basic menu of services--by placing their offices at strategic locations, hiring inexperienced new law school graduates, and using television and other hard-sell means to attract clients. Van Hoy's impeccable sociological research, presented in a clear, readable, anecdotal style, will be fascinating and useful reading, not only for members of the legal profession and their academic colleagues, but also for aspiring lawyers and their future clients.

Van Hoy shows that franchise law firms are a competitive innovation in the market for personal legal services--an innovation that has served to standardize lawyers' work and to dehumanize lawyers themselves. Precisely because the work of attorneys can be standardized and mass produced, a finding that may astonish some and dismay others, attorneys may be even more alienated from their chosen profession than their clients suspect. Van Hoy analyzes these matters and captures the broader context in which prepackaged firms operate; indeed, he compares franchised attorneys to lawyers in different types of firms who are also competing for the same business. Van Hoy is convinced that many attorneys are not only alienated but are ripe for unionization. He shows that collegiality no longer insulates attorneys from the pressures and dissatisfactions of the outside world, a research finding that in itself may seriously challenge prevailing viewpoints and shake confidence in the belief that legal work is not just a profession, but also a calling.

 

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Contents

The Rise or Franchise Law Firms
xi
Two Professions in One Package
3
Personal Legal Services
6
Constants and Change in Personal Legal Services
8
Franchises Law Firm Lawyers
15
Legal Aid Legal Clinics and Franchise Law Firms
16
The Organization or Mass Production Law
25
Positions and Roles
27
Franchise Law Firms and Traditional Practice
75
Lawyer Alienation
85
The Staff Attorney Experience
88
The Managing Attorney Experience
95
Alienation and Unions
113
Lawyers and Unions
115
Law Firm Structure and Union Attitudes
116
Markets Innovation and Prepackaged Law
127

The Evolving Mass Production Model
38
Client Services Selling and Processing Law
49
Advertising and OneShot Clients
50
Bringing the Clients In
52
At The Office
55
Processing Legal Forms
65
The Client Experience
70
Innovation versus Degradation
129
Professional Status and Capitalism
134
Data and Methods
137
References
141
Index
147
Copyright

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Page 4 - Although once held in the highest esteem as the model of a free, independent professional, today the individual practitioner of law, like the general practitioner in medicine, is most likely to be found at the margin of his profession, enjoying little freedom in choice of clients, type of work, or conditions of practice.
Page 1 - As its tide implies, emphasis is on both sides of the meaning of the word —"profession" as a special kind of occupation, and "profession" as an avowal or promise. As I shall try to show in the chapters that follow, it is useful to think of a profession as an occupation which has assumed a dominant position in a division of labor, so that it gains control over the determination of the substance of its own work.
Page 4 - The two kinds of law practice are two hemispheres of the profession. Most lawyers reside exclusively in one hemisphere or the other and seldom, if ever, cross the equator.
Page 145 - Prepackaged Law: The Political Economy and Organization of Routine Work at Multi-Branch Legal Services Firms.

About the author (1997)

JERRY VAN HOY is Associate Professor of Sociology and Co-Director of the Program in Law and Social Thought at The University of Toledo.

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