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Spencer Fane’s Upside-Down Leverage Model Featured for Being “Ahead of the Curve”

Missouri Lawyers Weekly recently featured Spencer Fane in a Feb. 16, 2015, cover story that recognizes the firm for being “ahead of the curve” by adopting a leverage model that “goes against the traditional law firm business model.” “Spencer Fane Britt & Browne is taking on an increasingly competitive legal industry by changing its business model,” Missouri Lawyers Weekly reported, adding that the firm embraces a model that allows clients to interact directly with experienced partners rather than have their matters worked by multiple layers of associates. Missouri Lawyers added that Spencer Fane’s approach is “contrary to traditional law firm models,” where some firms leverage as many as seven associates for every one partner within the firm. Spencer Fane’s upside-down leverage model — with one associate per three partners — is a reflection of the firm’s culture and part of its commitment to client service, St. Louis Managing Partner Frank Neuner said. “We did it, in large part, due to feedback we were getting from our clients that this is the sort of model that they like,” Neuner said. “A partner-heavy model means leaner staffing on projects, which removes layers of communications of approvals,” Missouri Lawyers Weekly reported. As a result, the client is “primarily dealing with a person familiar with their business and their challenges,” Neuner said. Neuner also mentioned that the model lends itself to better associate development because associates get more one-on-one time with partners. Loyd Gattis knows that to be true. “I benefitted, personally, from direct contact and mentoring and advice from senior partners from day one,” Gattis said. “I think the reason I was able to advance quickly through the firm was that I had that kind of mentoring, as opposed to a place where the first-year associate reports to the third-year associate who reports to the fifth-year associate who reports to the junior partner who reports to the senior partner.”

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