Okay, if you're not a soccer fan, you might want to skip this post. If you are a soccer fan, you probably already know that English premier teams are considered at the top of the world's soccer (the real football) hierarchy, and that English teams get promoted or demoted (relegated) to and from the premier level based on performance from year to year. The Wall Street Journal has a good story this week, "Newly Promoted Clubs Turning Experience Theory on Its Head" (sub. req.), about the fact that, contrary to expectations, some clubs recently promoted to the Premier League prospered, while a club that scrapped players to bring in players with Premier Club experience did not fare as well. The story speculates:
Maybe it is that the gap between English soccer's exalted top tier and its lower divisions isn't actually that big. Or that the cohesion and unity that comes from keeping a promoted squad together is worth more than we thought. Plus, there are plenty of players capable of doing a decent job in the Premier League if the right club gives them a shot. And by not paying the Premier League experience premium, these teams made their money worth that much more in the transfer market.
What's this got to do with lawyers and Michigan, you ask? Reading the WSJ story I was reminded of a thought that occurs to me often when reading national and international legal news -- that the prevailing assumption that law practiced by lawyers in the "top" East Coast and global law firms is superior to law practiced in other firms (for example, Michigan firms) is just that, an assumption, and an arrogant one at that. I have no doubt that Michigan's best lawyers can defend, shoot, and score with the best of 'em. We don't have a premier law league that formally promotes and relegates law firms; let's make sure that we don't give in to regional stereotyping that creates a virtual equivalent.
Update: This ATL post that says that the flurry of lateral moves of BigLaw talent doesn't always work out either. In fact, some of the firms that shun the practice of lateral hires are doing very well, thank you.