The Changing Economic Geography of Large U.S. Law Firms

16 Journal of Economic Geography 1235 (2016)

Indiana Legal Studies Research Paper No. 367

24 Pages Posted: 8 Feb 2017

See all articles by William D. Henderson

William D. Henderson

Indiana University Maurer School of Law

Arthur S. Alderson

Indiana University Bloomington - Department of Sociology

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: 2016

Abstract

The number of lawyers working for large U.S. law firms has increased dramatically. One important manifestation of this is the growing network of branch offices. Informed by three theories of spatial change — law firms (i) following the geographic expansion of their clients, relying on (ii) traditional agglomeration economies and relying on (iii) agglomeration benefits emerging from a location’s connectivity to other important geographies — we analyze longitudinal data on large U.S. law firms and the global urban network in which they are embedded. We find that, after the late 2000s, geographic expansion was less connected to organic market growth in U.S. domestic markets and London, a plausible explanation being the global financial crisis. At the same time, growth has continued in key foreign markets. We demonstrate how network analysis and a relational approach to organizations and organizational fields can yield insights into the structure and dynamics of industries.

Keywords: Law firms, location, networks

JEL Classification: L6, K3

Suggested Citation

Henderson, William D. and Alderson, Arthur S., The Changing Economic Geography of Large U.S. Law Firms (2016). 16 Journal of Economic Geography 1235 (2016); Indiana Legal Studies Research Paper No. 367. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2913610

William D. Henderson (Contact Author)

Indiana University Maurer School of Law ( email )

211 S. Indiana Avenue
Bloomington, IN 47405
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812-856-1788 (Phone)
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Arthur S. Alderson

Indiana University Bloomington - Department of Sociology ( email )

Ballantine Hall 744
1020 E. Kirkwood Avenue
Bloomington, IN
United States
(812) 855-4127 (Phone)

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