Holland & Knight is a big firm. It operates 22 offices throughout the United States and in China and Mexico. Its 1100 lawyers make Holland & Knight the 18th largest law firm in the country.
But Holland hasn't been wholly profitable of late. In 2007 it was only one of three firms in The American Lawyer's list of the 100 highest-grossing law firms to show a decline in profits. This setback came after layoffs in 2002 and 2005 that snared 110 lawyers and 240 staffers.
Relative to many other megafirms, Holland pays lower associate salaries and nets lower profits per partner. The tradeoff, according to firm tradition, is a pleasant work environment.
Newly elected managing partner Steven Sonberg is responding to client demands for lower fees and increasingly accessible partners with two initiatives.
First, Holland & Knight will discount its fees for some clients in exchange for success fees. Successful cases would yield more revenue for Holland. The new fee structure responds to concerns expressed by midsized, entrepreneurial companies.
[Hushed whispers rush through MoneyLaw's audience. "Imagine that," remarks one stunned reader. "Accountability. Performance-based compensation."]
Second, Holland has pledged to change expectations regarding partners and their performance. Steven Sonberg intends to increase partner productivity in response to clients' demands for instant responses and on-call lawyering. Partners who can’t meet billable hour requirements may be fired:
"The days of partners 50 and older playing golf on Wednesdays are long gone. There is no tenure here."