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Wall Street and Law Street

The news is packed with stories about how turmoil on Wall Street is impacting Main Street.  But what's the effect on Law Street?  Not to sound too lawyerly about it, but the answer depends on where you work and what you do, as the stories below suggest.

Legal process outsourcing companies in India have experienced huge growth over the past six months, and are on a hiring spree in anticipation of added work as U.S. firms cut back on hiring and a demand for litigation services rises, reports Hindu Business Line.  According to the article, the Wall Street crisis has "resulted in increased litigation related to bankruptcy, mergers & acquisitions and other related aspects," thus providing a boom for LPOs.  Moreover, in a tough economy, U.S. companies are under pressure to keep costs down, which makes lower-cost LPOs particularly attractive.

Likewise, many New Jersey firms are seeing increased business from Wall Street's woes, reports NJ Biz Weekly.  At least one firm, McCarter English, is handling litigation work related to Lehman Brothers' bankruptcy filing, while other firms are fielding calls from clients regarding the validity of their contracts with the various Wall Street firms that have gone under.  But other firms say that they haven't yet seen any additional work, and that it is premature to speculate on whether significant work will in fact materialize. 

If the past few months are any indication, however, law firms can expect a decline moving forward. A recent Citibank survey of the nation's top 160 law firms found that billable hours had declined by as much as 10 percent.  At Philadelphia-based Wolf Block, partners are hoping that the decline is "a temporary interruption."  But overall, Philadelphia firms have not been as hard hit as, for example, New York firms, whose workloads are more deeply tied to Wall Street-related transactional matters. In fact, few Philadelphia-based firms have been forced to engage in the massive associate layoffs that have taken place at firms in other parts of the country.

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on September 29, 2008 at 10:05 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

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