The days when associates fresh out of law school billed hundreds of dollars an hour to learn their trade have been ended by global competition for legal services. Clients once stayed with the same big law firm for generations because they needed the comfort of the brand. Then law firms got greedy and imagined their brand could justify billing out the time of associates in perpetuity. Clients got leaner and more cost-conscious, and their in-house legal departments became much more sophisticated consumers of legal services. Global transportation, communication and computing got cheap enough that legal projects did not have to be done in a single physical space.
Ribstein makes probably the most telling characterization of graduating law students to date when he calls them "canaries in the coal mine."