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A&O annual review reveals plans to reduce costs

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Law firm literature is not usually something to get worked up about. Prospectuses, reviews and the like rarely stray from banalities about how much the firm adores its clients, how excellent its excellent lawyers are at being excellent, and something pro bono related cobbled together at the end.

Allen & Overy’s (A&O) annual review had snippets of that, but in it managing partner Wim Dejonghe and senior partner David Morley also articulate some interesting views on the firm’s future – and it doesn’t look too bright for associates.

“[Clients] don’t want to carry the cost of training our lawyers or of us maintaining that fixed resource,” explained Dejonghe in the review. “People in the firm don’t like it either. It’s too inflexible […] So we’re examining a new approach we call ‘fluid resourcing’. We will still continue to have associate lawyers but we might, in 10 years’ time, have fewer than today.”

He then added that the firm might look to set up a resourcing business that would allow them to bring in extra lawyers for projects, a bit like Berwin Leighton Paisner’s Lawyers On Demand business.

“The legal sector is going to face fundamental change over the next 10 years,” added Dejonghe, responding to The Lawyer. “One challenge is providing greater flexibility for our clients and for the next generation of lawyers who may not want to follow the traditional career path. To ensure we arrive at the best possible solution for both our clients and our people, it’s important to start debating these issues now in order to keep ahead of any shifts in the market.”