Lupicinio International Law Firm has created an unprecedented concept: “Boutique of Boutiques” or alternatively, Cluster of Boutiques. Why have we done this and what is it for?
Global firms lose –slowly and silently– competitiveness to new boutiques. Spin offs (splits) of departments or qualified talents of global firms create boutiques that present more seniority and greater specialization than traditional firms.
But boutiques, as they are conceived, suffer from certain detectable deficiencies –some of them already detected– that will cause, in the medium term, a crisis. The most significant lack of current legal boutiques today lies in the risks of specialization. Advocacy is a multifaceted discipline. The issues –litigious or not– have nuances that only the great generalist lawyer or well-integrated teams can detect.
Transactional “boutiques” are the most vulnerable. The perimeter of services of a “Litigation Boutique” is essentially procedural, it is in transactional scenarios where the need arises to weigh lateral impacts and externalities. The topography of corporate services is more complex and multifaceted. Transactions, operations, M&A, restructurings and Corporate Engineering inevitably require a timely and very synergistic integration of several or multiple concurrent disciplines –Tax, Competition Law, Procedural, and Regulatory. There is where the weakness of the Corporate Boutique lies.
Another significant challenge is that of the financial position. The small size implies financial smallness meaning that the demands of the corporate clientele (or the wealthy individuals) require certain financial solidity. New technologies are expensive; Artificial Intelligence is imposed. This new dialogue between lawyer and new technologies requires heavy investments. A certain critical mass is therefore needed to generate the financial resources required to address these challenges.
A critical mass also allows to offer infrastructures and services (technology and audiovisual rooms, library, sustainable catering, security and better services in general) that boutiques cannot offer. The legal “boutique” as it currently operates can be compared to the office of the British barrister – ultimately a specialized or hyper-specialized subcontractor at the service of global firms. The barristery have come recently together to form large boutique alliances (“Boutique of Boutiques”). In my theoretical model, the cognitive and conceptual limitations of the professionals and their practice areas “boutiquised” are solved through a disciplined interaction between the teams of the different boutiques in the search of operational and cognitive synergies. The “boutiques” communicate with one another, they address the risk map together. Financial constraints are resolved through co-investment in technology and infrastructure. The individual brands of the boutiques should flourish, but this does not exclude a common denominator that would operate as an integrating sub-brand.
The boutiques in the firm that I conceive are only viable with people of proven loyalty.
We will continue rethinking our strategy.