If you want to hire a lawyer, you generally have two options: You can hire a megafirm or ‘biglaw’ firm, or choose to work with a boutique law firm. Increasingly, clients ranging from individuals to companies are turning towards boutiques instead of biglaw firms for a variety of reasons Understanding why so many people prefer boutique firms can help you make the right choice for your legal representation.
What Is a Biglaw Firm?
Biglaw firms are typically large law firms that employ dozens or even hundreds of lawyers. Biglaw firms are also often called “megafirms” or “full service firms,” and may have several firms spread out across a country or even across different continents.
Biglaw firms specialize in providing clients with a large, generalistic array of legal services. Attorneys at biglaw firms often possess knowledge of multiple areas.
What Is a Boutique Law Firm?
Unlike biglaw firms, boutique firms often only employ a few lawyers, with larger boutique firms maxing out at around 15 attorneys. Boutique firms are typically localized to one specific location.
Boutique firms offer niche, highly concentrated services to clients. Lawyers at boutique firms are usually specialists in one specific area of law, not generalists.
What Kind of Firm Is Right for You?
For decades, biglaw and boutique firms have existed alongside one another. In the past, boutique firms were utilized by individuals who needed an attorney with niche legal knowledge, while companies often preferred the wide array of knowledge and payment models offered by biglaw firms. For some international enterprises, the ubiquity of biglaw firms was also a factor—having access to firms around the country or world can come in handy.
However, in recent years more and more companies have moved away from biglaw firms. Many business overpay for services from biglaw firms they rarely end up using, making the lower cost of boutique firms attractive. Additionally, the internet has made it increasingly easy for boutique firms to handle non-local casework for clients, eliminating one of the larger restrictions for boutique clients. Many companies are also concerned by the lack of niche legal knowledge possessed by biglaw firms. For all these reasons and more, companies and individuals are both increasingly investing in boutique firms for their legal needs.
Here are a few of the reasons you may want to work with a boutique firm:
- You need a specialist. If your case requires someone with in-depth legal knowledge of a specific discipline, a boutique is your best bet. Boutiques only employ highly specialized, niche lawyers, and most will refer you to another boutique that can handle your case if their attorneys can't help you.
- You don't want to break the bank. Boutique firms don't have to deal with the operating costs and general overhead that biglaw firms do, so running a boutique costs less than running a biglaw firm. As a result, hiring an attorney from a boutique firm often costs significantly less than hiring a lawyer from a biglaw firm, despite the fact that boutique attorneys typically have a greater knowledge of their chosen legal area than biglaw lawyers.
- You want to ensure your attorney is high-quality. Since biglaw firms hire so many lawyers, it's harder to guarantee you'll receive high-end work as the client of a biglaw firm. In contrast, boutique firms attract talented specialists who are only interested in handling cases within their specific niche. If you need to ensure your case is handled with a certain kind of quality, you want to look towards a boutique.
- You want to develop a relationship with your law firm. For businesses and individuals that regularly need legal assistance, developing a working relationship with a law firm can make filing and handling cases smoother. It’s much easier to build a relationship with attorneys at a boutique, since you’ll probably only work with one or two employees who are experts in their areas. In contrast, if you hire a biglaw firm, you may work with more attorneys and probably won’t be able to build a good rapport with any one attorney at the firm.
For many of the above reasons, boutique firms are becoming increasingly popular, even for legal clients such as big businesses that typically do business with biglaw firms.
For more than 25 years, the Law Office of Nancy Perry Eaton, PLLC, has provided Texas families in Killeen county with superior family law services. If you have a family law case, our experienced, compassionate attorney will work with you to help you navigate your case.
To arrange a consultation with our team, contact us online or give us a call at (254) 221-8588.