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Most Lawyers Believe Legal Industry Will Recover by 2010

The results of an American Bar Association poll of 14,307 attorneys -- more than 1.3 percent of the nation's 1.1 million lawyers -- show that 52 percent believe the recession will last through 2010, while 22 percent predict that the legal industry won't recover until 2011. And an overwhelming majority -- 78 percent -- believe that all lawyers will feel the effects of the recession, at least to some degree.

Unfortunately, instead of trying to identify new practice areas or innovative ways to thrive in a downturn, many lawyers are running scared, paralyzed by panic. In the opening paragraphs of this post at Law21, Jordan Furlong says that many lawyers are desperately trying to hang on to old, failed ways of doing business. Pathetically, many associates are keeping grunt work like deposition summaries or document review to themselves, instead of delegating it to paralegals, in a desperate effort to keep up billable hours. Of course, you can't blame them; they've learned from the best. Patrick Lamb, of In Search of Perfect Client Service, reveals that even partners are getting reacquainted with the law library and Shephardizing.

So what's a law firm to do besides sit tight until 2010? Last week, Bruce MacEwen at Adam Smith, Esq. offered some words of wisdom, suggesting lawyers take a thoughtful, reflective approach to structural dislocation, and think about what the firm's founders would have done if confronted with a similar shift in market forces. Matt Homann lays out Ten Rules for the New Economy that can also help.

As for what not to do? In my view, micromanaging lawyer activities by blocking access to Facebook (a practice about which Steve Matthews is gathering more information at Stem Legal) doesn't seem like a great idea. At worst, Facebook can provide stressed out lawyers with a way to let off steam and at best, it can help build relationships that can result in more clients. Seems like the kind of activity to encourage in down times, not prohibit.

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on December 18, 2008 at 02:46 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

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