You go to a large firm, arrange a conference call, and tell the Intellectual Property lawyer that someone came to your site, ran a spider, took your content, and launched a competing site. That someone, you just found out, is a former business partner who is also defaming your company on blogs. The IP lawyer, adept at filing copyrights and trademarks, drafting licensing agreements, and all of the standard IP work, looks dazed. He sees a litigation issue, and reschedules the call so he can include the litigation team. The litigation team asks you to explain what a spider is to them, but instead opts to bring in a young lawyer in an unrelated department who "knows technology" to assist them. When the business partnership issue comes up, they call their corporate and business organization lawyer to see what actual legal obligations exist and the issues surrounding the business entity ownership. While they are doing this, the contract department lawyer is called to get his feedback on your site's user contract to see if the access was prohibited by contract, and then the post judgment remedies lawyer (bankruptcy and collections) will evaluate the ability of this ex-business partner to pay a judgment if monetary damages are pursued. And, of course, the IP lawyer is still involved to guide the team on the copyright issue, but he is busy getting the Ist amendment lawyer involved to see whether you can obtain an injunction prohibiting this former partner's blog attacks. You can envision a very funny Youtube video about this process, can't you? A week later you realize that the legal issues include contract, copyright, business organization, litigation, torts, freedom of speech, bankruptcy and collections.
Yes, we work in a highly collaborative environment as a team, but one team working on the same type of issues every day. I think that makes a big difference to our clients, particularly when a quick answer is needed to a pressing need. Big firms struggle with this because their skill sets are spread out among many different departments. Small boutique firms with an intellectual property practice struggle because they often don't have the wide scope of experience necessary.
I am not sure that firms can ever move away from being organized by legal specialties because it adds significant value to the big client. Lawyers who organize and manage corporate filings and registrations are really good at that. Employment lawyers are really good at dealing with employment and personnel matters. Litigators are trial lawyers, and they are really good at trying cases. This creates an obvious benefit for most clients of the firm. But not for the Internet business client who is faced with a problem that requires expertise across multiple legal practice areas.
Our skills are very broad in nature, but highly focused in application. Holistic analyses of problems or issues are at the core of our value equation. So for all of you who wonder why we limit our practice so "narrowly" to the law of the web, that's why.