“Same as the old normal,” that is, if you’re a client, not a law firm. Within the legal industry, surviving the recent economy has demanded broad, fundamental changes, and I agree with analysts who say the industry has been permanently transformed, whether or not the down-economy is the root cause. However, one might easily argue that the new operating paradigm of the legal industry is merely aligned with the practices and drivers that have characterized its client base for decades — their “old normal” is our “new normal.”
To the point, we attorneys now operate in an intensely competitive environment, where we must compete every day to retain relationships with lifelong clients, who are actively courted by other firms looking to replace us. Likewise, an ever-increasing component of organic growth relies on convincing businesses to move relationships from other firms to us. Success is based on our ability to proactively serve clients’ needs and deliver real value. Think of it as providing “superior client service” or “alternative rate structures” or “enhanced project management” or anything else you like, but our corporate friends long ago embraced bare-knuckled competition as their daily lot in life, while big law firms were still enjoying an ever increasing universe of work to do, at rates that rose like clockwork every year.