New firms good for R.I. legal scene

Perhaps it is a byproduct of the shrinking size of Rhode Island’s largest law firms, or perhaps it is just a sign of the focus of young people on entrepreneurial success. Certainly it has something to do with companies looking at spending less on outside counsel.

But the last few years are seeing growth in the number of law-firm startups.

Recent graduates are increasingly hanging out a shingle, as many of the former entry-level positions with firms dry up. And many already successful midcareer attorneys are breaking out to start their own firms, on their own terms.

What does this mean? While the reasons are varied, it is an exciting development. Smaller firms should be more nimble, filling niches that a larger practice may not consider worth the time. Alternative commercial arrangements are easier to accomplish with smaller firms, bringing greater access to legal representation.

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Of course, some day these small firms may become the large, less-entrepreneurial ventures they are today. But for the profession, and those who depend on it, this is an exciting time.