Shortly after the dot-com bubble burst in the early 2000s, Shearman & Sterling was still a marquis name in the legal community. The firm, then ranked No. 5 in the Am Law 100, was high-priced, effective and had a market reputation as a firm that you called. They didn’t need to call you.
But the legal industry changed significantly over the past 20 years. Some law firms became as large as Fortune 500 companies, growing profits from private equity firm business, not only investment banks, and partners were forced to do business development, instead of relying on institutional business. Law firms found a new pecking order, with firms founded in Chicago and the West Coast suddenly leaping ahead. Some New York law firms adapted, while others are playing catchup.