Van Hoy shows that franchise law firms are a competitive innovation in the market for personal legal services--an innovation that has served to standardize lawyers' work and to dehumanize lawyers themselves. Precisely because the work of attorneys can be standardized and mass produced, a finding that may astonish some and dismay others, attorneys may be even more alienated from their chosen profession than their clients suspect. Van Hoy analyzes these matters and captures the broader context in which prepackaged firms operate; indeed, he compares franchised attorneys to lawyers in different types of firms who are also competing for the same business. Van Hoy is convinced that many attorneys are not only alienated but are ripe for unionization. He shows that collegiality no longer insulates attorneys from the pressures and dissatisfactions of the outside world, a research finding that in itself may seriously challenge prevailing viewpoints and shake confidence in the belief that legal work is not just a profession, but also a calling.
Fleming starts by examining what he sees as a paradox: a large increase in lawyers' fees despite a fourfold increase in lawyer numbers and a threefold increase in their proportion of the general population. What happened to the law of supply and demand? he asks. After tracing the history of the large corporate law firm and its dominance within the profession, he shows how cost-effectiveness within large firms has declined while at the same time what he calls the magic of the emperor's new clothes has suspended the law of supply and demand. He discusses excessive legal fees, their resistance to client and court controls, and relates his discussion to the present pervasive distrust of lawyers among the public. Fleming outlines the four existing challenges to business-as-usual by lawyers and law firms, and then ventures his own analysis of the needed future changes in law firms. These include professional law firm management under a less archaic structure, effective integrity and quality controls, cost-controlled delivery of legal services, and increased job satisfaction for its working lawyers.