We often come across the concept of “legal fiction” in law: corporations, survivorship, adoption, real property, etc. In particular, large law firm partnerships are a legal fiction, and the fiction becomes paramount when one views the decision-making processes involved in keeping a firm viable under today’s changing ground rules. Decisions that would be in the best long-term interest of an organization are often different than those actually made by individuals within it, due to factors such as ambiguity, temporal impacts, repetition, and conflicts (see, e.g. Organizational Decision Making). In particular, though, is the issue of individual incentives. In the case of “Big Law”, these varying incentives may well be a primary cause for the slow pace of implementing the changes that are increasingly being demanded by the market.

Big Law as Legal Fiction and the Lack of Innovation