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Economic Downturn Roundup for Law Firms

Here's a roundup of recent news stories on the impact of the economic downturn on law firms:

End of the billable hour? Could the billable hour become the next victim of the economic downturn? After all, cash-strapped clients are no longer as willing to write a blank check for $1000/hour billable rates. There's some discussion of this issue over at Above the Law and also at my home blog, MyShingle.

Downsizing minority recruitment programs? Via the ABA Journal, a dozen law firm managers interviewed by the Legal Times (registration required) say that they do not plan to invest more money in minority recruitment and may in fact downsize some programs. As law firms are cutting back on associate hiring generally, vigorous recruitment efforts that drive minorities to associate programs are apparently no longer necessary.

Will law firms suffer from the credit crunch? Though firms now have enough money on hand to pay bills, exercising prudence makes sense in tough times, advises law practice guru Ed Poll at Law Biz Blog. In particular, Poll advises lawyers to stay on top of their collections efforts to avoid cash flow problems.

What's the outlook for associates? Not surprisingly, the job market for new associates is grimmer than ever, reports the National Law Journal. According to the article, the number of legal jobs nationwide is steadily declining; jobs in the law sector shrank by 2,000 in September -- the fifth consecutive month of losses. The legal workforce of 1,165,100 was down by 1.15 percent from a year ago, when the industry employed 1,178,600 people.

So what are some other trends that we'll see moving forward? I foresee massive cuts to law firm pro bono programs. Susan Cartier Liebel anticipates that more lawyers will open their own practice to take advantage of opportunities that the downturn offers. Jordan Furlong predicts new focus on clients. What are your predictions?

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on October 21, 2008 at 02:03 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)


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