Priced out of the market

February 11, 2009
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A handful of partners and attorneys are leaving Bingham McHale in Indianapolis to start their own insurance litigation firm because as one partner said, “We were pricing ourselves out of the market.”

The amicable split between the attorneys and the fifth-largest firm in Indianapolis raises a few eyebrows and questions. An article in today’s Indiana Lawyer Daily about the new firm quotes partner Jim Strenski as saying an increase in overhead costs and pressure to raise client rates contributed to the new firm’s creation.

If this is happening in one practice area in one firm, it must be happening in other areas and in other firms. Could this be contributing to the layoffs of legal support staff and rumored layoffs or departure of attorneys around town?

This is a smart move by these attorneys and support staff creating Cantrell Strenski & Mehringer. There seems to be a trend among businesses to take their business to smaller firms when economic times get tough because smaller firms are able to provide their services for a lower price. Why stay with a firm where you are struggling to keep or attract clients because of high rates and costs when you can start a small firm that may be more attractive to businesses? And if the firm is struggling economically, it wins too because it’s reduced overhead, salaries, and benefits without having to fire anyone.

I’m usually not a betting person, but I think this move may spur other attorneys in Indianapolis at larger firms to take a look at starting a new firm. With the economy how it is and with no signs of it getting better soon, smaller firms may be more attractive to clients and the wave of the legal immediate future.

Plus, if this same issue of having to raise clients’ rates and meet increasing overhead costs is happening elsewhere, larger firms are going to be struggling to maintain clients and attorneys. A struggling firm may lead to attorney cuts. Why not jump ship and start your own firm before things get really tough at your firm or you’re let go?
  • This type of thing is really relatively old news within the insurance defense bar all across the country. Since the early 1990\'s larger firms literally kicked out their lower billing insurance defense attorneys as they grew fat on the profits of higher billing corporate clients. The larger firms felt that their insurance defense lawyers were literally taking up space that could be used by higher billing attorneys. The only thing that appears to be different about the Bingham-McHale situation is that this time, the insurance defense attorneys are apparently taking the initiative to leave.

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  1. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  4. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  5. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.