The legal scene for some time has been changing with increase in specialized cases. These deal with areas like immigration and environmental laws. The economic conditions have also not been very supporting of the bigger firms as they are finding it hard to manage huge administrative overheads. Out of these times has emerged the phenomenon of a boutique law firm. These have usually been formed by practicing lawyers who left bigger firms and started their own practices which focus on niche areas.
Characteristics of a Boutique law firm:
1. It is usually smaller than a general practice law firms. At times it could just consist of one or two lawyers who have come together due to a shared passion for a particular area of law.
2. Most of these have been formed by attorneys who left bigger law firms to start their own practices. A good example is Chicago Law Partners which was started by five attorneys from Chicago law firm of Neal, Gerber and Eisenberg.
3. It focuses on a niche or a few niche areas rather than all aspects of law and order. For example, Chicago Law Partners takes up cases only for not-for-profit organizations.
4. They market themselves as "specialists" in their chosen area like immigration laws or maritime laws.
5. The fees charged by these firms are usually higher than the conventional general practice law firms.
Pros compared to a conventional law firm:
• A firm that handles all kind of cases may not have the depth and knowledge required for specialized cases say a divorce which involves child custody.
• If you find a boutique law firm which is passionate about your cause, you may be able to get their services at lower cost. And the dedication that stems from their passion for the cause is an added bonus.
• A boutique law firm because of its knowledge and involvement may be able to assist with investigating the case besides fighting it on your behalf.
• The staff at a boutique firm tends to provide more than just legal advice. Due to their vast experience, they can also provide personal and professional advice to deal with the issues you may be facing during your legal battle.
Cons compared to a conventional law firm:
• First is the cost of hiring such a firm which will be higher than that of hiring a conventional firm. This may reduce over time given their lower overheads but that is still to be seen.
• They may not have enough staff which could be deterrent at times for the case in hand.
As a concept it looks to be a better option than a conventional set-up especially for handle highly complex and specific cases. But, are firms ready to focus on just one area, is yet to be proven in the long run. Also needs to be proven is the implication that they are more than just small law firms attired in a new garb.