The pin factory

Perhaps it was the fond memories of the familiar blue Adam Smith in college, but this recent article on 3 Geeks and a Law Blog was a good read.

To some degree, this specialization is already occurring – you have more and more attorneys specializing in certain discrete tasks – the appearance attorney, the research attorney, the appellate specialization.  But oftentimes this is more out of necessity then desire, per say.

Should law firms move to the model the Geeks envision?  On one level, it certainly makes sense – why shouldn’t, say, the best writer in the field draft the pleadings; the best talker handle the court appearances, and so forth – of course, it raises some problems too – it only works with a bunch of people, for one, and it presumes you’d associate with other attorneys based on skills alone.

One of the biggest problems we envision is inspired by that equally familiar red book (we did have to read them both in college, after all).  One of the major shortcomings in the pin factory, and of Smith’s specialization in general, is that it creates monotony which leads to dissatisfaction at best – this is, perhaps, unavoidable for routine, low-skill tasks, but the attorney is, by definition, not a low skill occupation.  Lawyers are unhappy now – but how bad would they be alienated from their own labor in this system?

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