When I was in law school, Wolf Block (whose name was longer then) was the law firm to join if you wanted to be in a big firm. My parents even mentioned that to me a few times, although big firm life was not my style. And the firm’s history is well-chronicled. That’s why it’s so sad to read of its demise.
The status of the entire legal community is in flux, and Wolf Block appears to be the most obvious example. Firms are laying off attorneys almost daily, and then claiming it’s not because of the economy, it’s just to be more economical. For my two cents, I have never understood how firms justified paying $125,000.00 or more to newly-minted law school graduates who (like every other law school grad) don’t know anything about the practice of law. These attorneys may be bright, but that’s a large expense for on-the-job training, especially for the clients who pay the freight. Perhaps some reality will set in.
As we deal with the ever-increasing glut of lawyers on the market, I’m perplexed. My office building suddenly has space available and I have been searching for a “downsized” lawyer with some business who wants to have a suburban-based practice to join me here. I can’t find anyone interested. I can’t even figure out where all the downsized lawyers are. They can’t all be using placement services, and most firms aren’t hiring. And I sincerely doubt that all of these lawyers are looking for new careers. It’s as though they have instantly disintegrated.
Who knows where all of this will lead the legal market in Philadelphia? I don’t know, that’s for sure. But when a firm like Wolf Block says it’s closing the doors, it’s an ominous sign for everyone.