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Specialization, Firms, and Markets: The Division of Labor within and between Law Firms

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  • Thomas N. Hubbard

Abstract

This article uses confidential microdata from the Census of Services to examine law firms' field boundaries. We find that the share of lawyers working in field-specialized firms increases as market size increases and lawyers field specialize, indicating that transaction costs among lawyers, and not just complementarities in clients' demands, affect law firms' field boundaries. Moreover, we find that this pattern is mainly true when looking at fields where lawyers are involved in dispute resolution rather than in structuring transactions. We then analyze which combinations of specialists tend to work in the same firm and which tend not to do so. We relate our results to theories of law firms' boundaries from the organizational economics literature. Our evidence leads us to eliminate risk sharing as an important determinant of firms' field boundaries and narrows the set of possible monitoring or knowledge sharing explanations. (JEL D23, J44, L14, L84) The Author 2008. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Yale University. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oxfordjournals.org, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Thomas N. Hubbard, 2009. "Specialization, Firms, and Markets: The Division of Labor within and between Law Firms," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 25(2), pages 339-371, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:jleorg:v:25:y:2009:i:2:p:339-371
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/jleo/ewn003
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    Cited by:

    1. Simona Grassi & Ching-To Albert Ma, 2015. "Information Acquisition, Referral, and Organization," Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series wp2015-007, Boston University - Department of Economics.
    2. Harald Beyer & Justine Hastings & Christopher Neilson & Seth Zimmerman, 2015. "Connecting Student Loans to Labor Market Outcomes: Policy Lessons from Chile," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(5), pages 508-513, May.
    3. Fabio Landini & Antonio Nicolò & Marco Piovesan, 2013. "The Hidden Cost of Specialization," IFRO Working Paper 2013/9, University of Copenhagen, Department of Food and Resource Economics.
    4. Larry G. Epstein & Hiroaki Kaido & Kyoungwon Seo, 2016. "Robust Confidence Regions for Incomplete Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 84, pages 1799-1838, September.
    5. Oyer, Paul & Schaefer, Scott, 2011. "Personnel Economics: Hiring and Incentives," Handbook of Labor Economics, Elsevier.
    6. Gumpert, Anna, 2014. "The organization of knowledge in multinational firms," Annual Conference 2014 (Hamburg): Evidence-based Economic Policy 100332, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    7. Daniel H. Weinberg, 2013. "Talent Recruitment and Firm Performance: The Business of Major League Sports," Working Papers 13-54r, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau, revised Feb 2014.
    8. Valerie Smeets & Michael Waldman & Frederic Warzynski, 2013. "Performance, Career Dynamics, and Span of Control," Economics Working Papers 2013-02, Department of Economics and Business Economics, Aarhus University.
    9. Rossella Argenziano & Sergei Severinov & Francesco Squintani, 2016. "Strategic Information Acquisition and Transmission," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 8(3), pages 119-155, August.
    10. Rao, T.V.S. Ramamohan, 2011. "CES as an Organizational Production Function," Indian Economic Review, Department of Economics, Delhi School of Economics, vol. 46(1), pages 69-81.
    11. Garicano, Luis & Hubbard, Thomas N., 2012. "Learning about the nature of production from equilibrium assignment patterns," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 136-153.
    12. Cécile Cezanne & Laurence Saglietto, 2016. "Human Capital-Intensive Firms and 4PLs: A Specific Partnership," Journal of Economics and Management, College of Business, Feng Chia University, Taiwan, vol. 12(1), pages 61-83, February.
    13. Leila Agha & Keith Marzilli Ericson & Kimberley H. Geissler & James B. Rebitzer, 2018. "Team Formation and Performance: Evidence from Healthcare Referral Networks," NBER Working Papers 24338, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Casey Ichniowski & Kathryn L. Shaw, 2009. "Insider Econometrics: Empirical Studies of How Management Matters," NBER Working Papers 15618, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. repec:cen:wpaper:13-54 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Bessy, Christian, 2012. "Law, forms of organization and the market for legal services," economic sociology_the european electronic newsletter, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies, vol. 14(1), pages 20-30.
    17. K. Bruce Newbold & W. Mark Brown, 2015. "The Urban–Rural Gap In University Attendance: Determinants Of University Participation Among Canadian Youth," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(4), pages 585-608, September.
    18. Amira Bouziri & Marc-arthur Diaye, 2014. "A Test of Garicano's Knowledge Model," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 34(3), pages 1448-1455.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
    • J44 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Professional Labor Markets and Occupations
    • L14 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Transactional Relationships; Contracts and Reputation
    • L84 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Personal, Professional, and Business Services

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