I was surprised how wrong the predictions were for an economic recovery in the legal profession in 2010. Instead we got the dismal "new normal" with layoffs, indebted law grads without jobs, cost-cutting, and gloomy expectations from managing partners.
"We believe the worst is over," said Dan Dipietro of Citi Private Bank on March 3, 2010. Man was he wrong!
The National Bureau of Economic Research said the recession ended in June 2009, but nobody believed it. The only lawyers doing well were handling foreclosures, divorces and bankruptcies.
For 2011, economists (see http://bit.ly/i9usFB) predict more competition, pressure on fees, fewer partner-track associates positions, more non-equity service partners, fewer salaried and more temp positions, and more legal work outsourced overseas.
On the bright side:
- M&A activity is expected to jump 36% in 2011 (see http://aol.it/dcYS4M)
- Demand for legal services will also increase in healthcare, intellectual property, bankruptcy, corporate and security litigation, antitrust law, and environmental law (see http://bit.ly/gakp3z)
- Lawyers and paralegals with at least four years experience will be needed at midsize law firms, see http://bit.ly/hiyvyn. Law firms are looking for workers that will bring clients with them.
- CRM (client relationship management systems) will have to incorporate LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook information.
- Law firms will realize they can’t cost-cut their way to profit, and will seriously start training lawyers to do business development to increase the financial top line.
- “Innovate or die” will be the watchword for law firms, and they will offer new ways to offer new business services and value billing.
- Law firms will stop upgrading software and use SaaS offerings and cloud computing.
As for the rest, we'll see.