Like many legal industry pundits, consultants and visionaries, I am fascinated by what the legal industry might look post-recession.

According to The Legal Intelligencer’s article, Law Firms Post-Recovery: How They’ll Hire and Whom They’ll Serve, Global will be “Out,” and Regional, smaller will be “In.”

Industry consultants and firm leaders alike anticipate law firms will primarily model themselves to suit their clients’ geographic needs, rather than focusing on diversifying practices.

For those of us who’ve been on the business side of law, we watched as regional law firms opened offices in New York, London and Asia all the while branding themselves as “global,” when, in reality, they were great regional firms with even greater ambitions.

Managing and practicing law by office, region or geographic boundaries was out. We rebranded, externally, along practice and industry groups in the hopes of cross-selling and increasing our market share within the client’s legal spend.

We also watched (in frustration) as partners continued to represent their clients the same way they always did. Cross-selling (for the most part) never took off, relationships between the attorneys in the “home” office and the “satellite” offices were never developed … and the bureaucracy and rates continued to rise and frustrate.

While there will always be room for the true global powerhouses in the post-recession economy, there will not be enough work for every AmLaw 100 firm to grow with such aspirations.

So, what’s so bad about being smaller and servicing clients regionally?

According to Hildebrandt’s Joseph Altonji, he sees

opportunities for midsize firms to acquire laterals from the largest firms and said that is a good thing. While some may be getting pushed out of the large firms, many lawyers and clients are repositioning themselves. Why would a partner, even with a profitable, strong practice, stay in a firm with thousands of lawyers around the world — and the infrastructure that entails — when his practice is focused mainly in one geographic area, Altonji questioned.

“So I think what you’re going to start to see is some of the bigger firms will optimize around broad swaths of work that need that infrastructure,” he said.

“Other firms will start to optimize around more local practices.”

This isn’t to say that clients won’t use both types of firm, he said. But there are only a handful of firms that currently meet the truly global model and only a certain number of clients who require such a reach, he said.

So, let’s hear it for the regional law firms! The boutiques!! Smaller is the new “Big.” Regional is the new “Global.”