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Sunday, April 01, 2012

Law - "Ex-partner in Big Law blogs it all"

From a long story yesterday by Ameet Sachdev of the Chicago Tribune:

Steven Harper had a long and successful career as a trial lawyer. He was a partner at Chicago-based Kirkland & Ellis, one of the nation's largest and most prestigious law firms, and made enough money to leave the practice in 2008 at the age of 54.

He hasn't quietly gone into retirement. Harper is one of the most outspoken critics of large law firms, writing a blog titled "The Belly of the Beast" and self-publishing a novel that paints a harsh picture of life inside a big firm.

His transformation hasn't gone unnoticed among friends and former colleagues.

"I was surprised that a guy with all his talent as a trial lawyer would suddenly become a commentator on the business of law," said Fred Bartlit, a former Kirkland partner best known for guiding George W. Bush's legal effort in Florida's disputed election in 2000. "What happened?"

Harper shrugs when asked and says he didn't have an epiphany. His commentary also doesn't come across as the ranting of a frustrated lawyer with deep-seated bitterness that could only be expressed after leaving the profession.

"I was never unhappy at Kirkland," said Harper, who is working on a nonfiction book about the legal profession that will be published next year. "I'm simply observing an evolution of a practice. The practice of law inside large firms in the 1990s was dramatically different than it is today."

Harper spent his entire 30-year career in private practice at Kirkland. He would be regarded as an anachronism in today's large law firm, often colloquially called "Big Law," where lawyers come and go like free agents in professional sports.

Here is the blog, The Belly of the Beast.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on April 1, 2012 09:20 AM
Posted to General Law Related