"Bankruptcy Boutique's Lawyers Depart for Larger Firms"

Possible words of warning for people working in bankruptcy law firms, boutique or not:

"If it's tough to be tiny, it's even tougher to be small and specializing in insolvency.

"San Francisco bankruptcy boutique McNutt & Litteneker began shedding attorneys in the summer of 2005 in tandem with a drop in business. The firm several years ago had 10 full-time lawyers -- eight of whom were associates. Last month's departure of its three remaining associates have name partners Scott McNutt and Rebecca Litteneker not just running the show -- they are the show.

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"Lawyers in the bankruptcy field say it is a rare boutique that is growing -- or even holding steady -- today. Even at large firms, bankruptcy specialists have retooled to handle other types of work until the next upturn. Notorious for running counter to the general economy, the bankruptcy practice booms in recession and wanes when business is strong."


"Small Litigation Shops Produce Big Results"

Do big-firm litigation paralegals wonder about switching to the small-firm world?

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"Litigation boutiques generally are characterized as having one dozen to two dozen lawyers, a payment system other than billable hours and careful selection of cases to enhance the firm's ability to provide individualized client service [PDF link]. The boutiques [PDF link] argue that they often provide better value than the litigation departments of larger firms.

"Unlike bigger firms, many litigation shops offer a variety of payment options [PDF link] for clients: flat fee, contingency or a mix that may include some billable hours. The billing approach depends on the type of litigation, and litigation shops focusing on commercial defense differ from personal injury firms.

"'At the large firms, often what is heard is a large sucking sound,' said Steven L. Schwarzberg, of Schwarzberg Spector Duke Schulz & Rogers, an 11-attorney firm in West Palm Beach that focuses on defending employers in suits filed by employees or former employees. 'There are lots and lots of fees, but not a lot of results.'"