The current downturn presents something of a swerve for many law firms.
Slow down (greatly in some cases) position yourself as you approach the bend and pass through, accelerating as you come out.
That is the conventional response to downturns in the market, as indicated by President of the Law Society Paul Marsh in this article.
“This is not the first downturn that I have experienced in my professional life. It is the third. Following the last two big recessions, my experience was that the profession more or less resumed business as usual.”
But this time, as Marsh writes, no sooner will we have passed through this current bend then we will be facing the then imminent implementation of the Legal Services Act, and the whole Susskind debate.
Many firms will be concentrating purely on survival – trim numbers, get lean, get tough on costs recovery. Others will be keeping their heads up, anticipating not only this sharp bend, but the ones that are coming ahead.
By doing so they can ensure that will emerge from the current situation positioned ready for the next one.
Those firms and practitioners who remain in denial of the changes coming (and we have touched upon a few of them within this blog) will be content to survive for now. They will be looking forward to markets returning to the normal conditions and accelerate into what they anticipate will be a long straight. It could get ugly.
The alternative is that firms, or individual lawyers, look at redundancy or over-capacity within their organisations. What systems could they implement now to fill that redundancy with research, product creation, systemisation and the like?