W H E R E T A N D O O R I CAN L E A D My wife and I were eating dinner with Donna and Joe. Joe asked what I had been doing lately. I explained that I had been studying knowledge-intensive firms - ones that earn revenues from specialized expertise. I cited the Rand Corporation and Arthur D. Little as examples, and briefly described their work. Joe, a partner in a prominent Park Avenue law firm, asked if I had studied any law firms. With insufficient tact and excessive confidence, I told him I had not. I understood law firms to make most of their revenues by routinely generating standardized documents such as contracts, stock offerings, or wills. Because legal word-processing systems are widely available, because all lawyers have adequate basic knowledge, and because law firms employ lawyers with diverse skills, clients can readily substitute one law firm for another. My interest lay, I said, in firms that are renowned for their unusual expertise. Joe replied quietly that he thought I was misjudging law firms in general, and more importantly, that some law firms do have reputations for unusual expertise. I asked him to
Journal of Management Studies – Wiley
Published: Nov 1, 1993
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