It’s the economy, stupid!

Famous words. And the legal community is beginning to feel them.

Start dates for new associates are being pushed back, from September to the beginning of  2009 … and even further in some cases. Partners are being terminated or de-equitized. Some firms are experiencing lower billable hours. Even if other lawyers in the same law firms are not directly affected, they can’t help wonder when the axe will fall on them.

No wonder the “fear factor” is spreading among associates in major law firms. Recent surveys suggest that nearly 30% of lawyers fear losing their jobs and 19% think billable goals will be missed. These responses are much higher than similar surveys at the end of last year.

More than ever, even associates must be cognizant of their clients needs and wants in order to create and maintain the bonds of loyalty between the two. In the case of associates, their clients include not only the “outside” client who pays the bill, but also the “inside” client who makes the work assignment and who supervises the work product of the associate.

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