The Adam Smith Blog Contemplates the Potential Consequences of Economic Downturn on the Legal Profession
Bruce MacEwen over at the Adam Smith blog has an interesting post called, “Lessons From The Depression.” Bruce notes that never in his career has there been a time of greater uncertainty. “The future is hard to visualize as it is to see the East Side of Manhattan from Central Park West on a deep foggy morning…” Essentially, Bruce notes that the economic downturn will have impacts on the business of law. Smart law firms are working hard to guess what those changes will bring so they can be ahead of the curve.
Clients finally get really, truly, serious about alternative and strategically-driven billing in lieu of the billable hour. (I know, obligatory caveat to follow, that we've been talking about this for 20 years, but I think the dirty little secret of that era is that the clients--not the law firms--were always bluffing. They were perfectly satisfied with the billable hour or it never would have maintained the market share it has.)
* Implication: Any firm that's willing to be creative, agile, and--not least--self-protective in terms of maintaining revenue for services rendered, will thrive. Firms that still think clients are bluffing, that think "alternative fees" is a synonym for "reduced revenue," or that simply lack financial imagination, will suffer.