Elephant Post: How Has Demand For Your (or your Firm's) Services Changed in 2011?

Projections for 2011 were that the legal market would be stagnant.  We thought we'd ask if you are finding those predictions to be true. From those that I've talked to, it seems to depend upon what part of the industry you are in. If you are in the state government sector, it seems that the cuts everyone else felt in 2008 has caught up, but the work is still there (but the money isn't.) If you are in the private sector, however, it seems that business is back up… but everyone is having to do more work, with less people.
Thanks to everyone that contributed their perspectives on this question. We do it all again next week and ask if you will share with us some of your secrets on how you prepare for a public speaking gig. So, read through and digest this week's Elephant Post answers, then get ready to add your perspective to next week's question.

Zena Applebaum
Intelligence & Intranet

From a CI perspective, demand for our services within the firm have increased tremendously.  It seem that following the recent downtown the community has come out a more competitive place than it was in 2010.  There has been economic recovery to some extent and companies are doing business again.  The key to competing and winning, is be smarter and better prepared and we are the resource they need to be both of those things.

Sarah Mauldin

I feel like we're busier and that I'm getting questions from more of the practice groups than I have before.  That may be because they've finally figured out that there is a library and that we're here to help, but I think it has more to do with having more work.  I'm also seeing projects that associates were hoarding to keep up their billables coming my way.  I've also been working more closely with Marketing, which keeps me nice and busy.

Jodi Triplett
LSAT prep company

From a bit of a different perspective (pre law students hoping to become lawyers), we're seeing fewer students taking the LSAT and those that are are becoming increasingly cognizant of the reality of repaying law school loans in a flat legal market.  It's actually making prepping top scores even more competitive as students realize they need to attend a good law school to land a high paying job/parlay a good offer into scholarship money lower down the rankings.

Toby Brown

AFAs: Demand continues to grow.  And the role for AFA staff within a firm continues to expand.  Previously it focused on process, review and approval.  Now pricing is becoming and art and science across a firm's operations, including traditional hourly billing.  Legal Services: Demand is flat, with some variations.  The predictions for a flat or slightly growing market seem to be playing out.  Of course certain practices are down and others may be up some.  But generally for a firm to grow it needs to be taking market share from competitors.

Stephanie Kimbro
Lawyer, Author

I provide unbundled estate planning services online.  For the past couple years, it seemed like my client base was putting off getting their estate planning needs met unless there was an urgent need.  They would register online and start working on the process and then find reasons to put off completing it. More than once it was work or unemployment related reasons.  However, this year it seems like clients are more motivated to have their estate planning handled, but at the same time they also are expecting flexibility in the way that they pay for those services.  Most of my online clients are now expecting payment plans that help them budget for legal expenses.  I'm fine providing these even if it does mean a little more administrative work in following up with balances owed.    I've also noticed this year that there is an increase in the number of baby boomer generation clients who are retiring or moving to my state who are deciding they need their documents updated.  So far, 2011 is looking good. It is just a different type of online client base than last year and certainly from when I started in 2006.

Next Elephant Post
How Do You Prepare For Public Speaking Engagements?
Do you spend hours and hours preparing for a 20 minute speech, do you just show up an wing it, or do you have some other way that you prepare for a pubic speaking engagement? Share with us a few of your processes that you use to get you read to dazzle the crowds.

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