If a little role-playing can spice up a marriage, can it do some good for a dying AmLaw 200 firm?

That’s the premise of a FutureFirm (pdf),

a game of strategy, skill, and endurance. The goal of the game is to craft a new law-firm business model that provides the best odds of your firm surviving and thriving 20 years into the future.

For those of us interested in Scenario Planning, this “game’s” real-world implications can lead to real solutions:

To add urgency to this climate, the weekend began with Anthony Kearns, the Australian lawyer, offering an amusing but sharply focused description of the American big firm landscape. Here’s what he sees:

1. The big firm bubble is about to burst. Choose your pin: angry clients; the exodus of talented people from the practice of law; the competition for associates that firms can’t afford; the increased competition for business between and among the firms.
2. The prevalence of bigger and stronger in-house departments.
3. The presence of three generations in the law firm workplace.
4. The global financial crisis, which has broken the old relationships.
5. The utter failure of firms to differentiate themselves to clients or recruits. (And, I might add, to themselves.)

The areas of convergence, while not shocking, confirm the areas of concern that I, along with many of my peers, have been discussing:

  1. Associates – from salaries, to training, to billable hour requirements and more
  2. Clients – from alternative fee arrangements, to client service and relationships, to loyalty
  3. Partners – from commitment to the firm, to partnership structures

And as there is no singular problem which will lead to the dissolution of a law firm, there can be no singular solution we can point to as a panacea or cure.

Mauer School of Law professor William Henderson will publish a complete and detailed report of the exercise, and I, for one, will be excited to read it.