Death of Big Government

Larry Ribstein —  25 October 2010

I’ve been talking (maybe to death) about how high costs, competition, outsourcing, etc., have contributed to the Death of Big Law

Now Bloomberg reports (HT Law blog) that Mark Cuban’s lawyer

told U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton in Washington that he was seeking a creative solution to moving the case along, noting the federal government often hired contractors. * * * Walton asked SEC attorneys to review whether bringing in contract attorneys for the task would violate federal hiring procedures or whether contractors would be allowed to review the documents, some of which may be classified.* * * The Cuban file is so voluminous that an attorney assigned to review it would have to spend more than eight months, assuming a pace of four pages a minute and eight-hour days without breaks, the SEC lawyers said.* * * The proposal to pay for the document review was made after Walton said he lacked authority to order the SEC to shift resources to accommodate Cuban’s request, and that there was little hope of additional funds from Congress. “Contrary to popular belief, the federal government is going broke,” Walton said.

(You thought from the title, and proximity to the election, this post would be about something else?)

Larry Ribstein


Professor of Law, University of Illinois College of Law

3 responses to Death of Big Government


    Probably stupid to get in an argument with a bunch of academics, as I am only a lowly BigLaw associate, but one case CAN make a solid refutation in some instances. Example: statement = “bald eagles are extinct”; refutation= “I see a bald eagle”. I have not read Larry’s paper. We “real” lawyer do read your blogs on occasion, but rarely have time to read your overly long law review articles. I was responding only to the statement that “BigLaw is DEAD”. It is clearly not all the way dead, as many BigLaw lawyers are still making a heck of a lot of money. Larry’s paper may say BigLaw is “dying”, which may be true in some cases. I think it is more “changing” than “dying”. The firms in the middle – meaning the firms that are neither as prestigious as WLRK, Skadden, SulCrom, DavisPolk, Weil, etc.; nor as cheap as the smaller local firms – may die off. But I don’t see my workload decreasing anytime soon.


    One case does not a solid refutation make. More importantly, I would imagine the Lehman restructuring tends to fall under old paradigms of the law market as it is a lengthy process that started before the trends Ribstein suggests as a cause for the DOBL–concurrently, perhaps is a more accurate time description, but in either case your article doesn’t strongly refute the DOBL.