Inside: How long can firms tread water without adapting?

Economic recovery may buy firms some time, but it won’t buy a future unless firms use that time to complete what they've begun, under duress or otherwise

It’s been our pleasure — that of my colleague Kimberly Leach Johnson and myself — to ruminate on best practices for outside law firms in InsideCounsel magazine over the last couple of months. We’ve touched on “softer” issues such as diversity, trust and branding as well as operationally focused topics like collaborative practice of law and understanding client businesses and competitive environments. In this, our last column of the series, I’d like to tie it all together by relating these various concepts to the central imperative that lies before us all: the need for change.

A recent survey conducted by Citi Private Bank’s Law Firm Group found that managing partners at large firms feel more optimism about the near-term economy and predict a rise in revenues in 2014. That’s good news (if they’re right), but it may turn out to be less fortunate in the long run if we law firms interpret an improving economy as a signal that “we’ve made it through” and challenging times are over for the legal industry. Sure, our clients may be more in a mood to spend next year than they were this or last, but the fact remains that the industry has fundamentally changed since the economy took a header in 2008, and there will never be enough growth to put the change genie back in the bottle. Economic recovery may buy us some time, but it won’t buy us a future unless we use that time to complete what we’ve begun, under duress or otherwise.

Contributing Author

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Fred Lautz

Quarles & Brady Managing Partner Fred Lautz practices in the areas of mergers & acquisitions and corporate finance/securities, with a focus in...

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