Will 2008 be a brief dip for law firms?

Aric Press, editor in chief of The American Lawyer, wrote in this month’s edition that “Next year’s Global 100 is apt to be a less pleasant experience (than this year’s law firm’s financial results). The best that law firms can hope for is that 2008 will mark the bottom, a dip in the otherwise inexorable rise of firm revenues and profits. A brief pause: Those are the optimists talking…. the work is down, collections are slower, hiring is off, and law firm leaders spend less of their time plotting global conquests and more trying to decide if anyone will notice that the quality of the paper in the Xerox machine has been taken down a grade…”

Alan Greenspan said recently that this crisis will not go away in the near future; it’s a longer term challenge. I’m old enough to have experienced a prior economic crisis (no John, not the Great Depression!), and it took a full generation to overcome. My fear is that it will take a full generation, or more, to overcome today’s crisis. Although the participants of the recently concluded ALM Law Firm Leaders conference seem to be more optimistic. I’m hoping they’re going to be proven correct.

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