Time to Retire the Phrase "Recent Economic Downturn"

It's conference season again for many of us. I get to go to Chicago next week for the P3 Conference and then to Philadelphia in July for AALL. If I get really lucky, I'll sneak in to the ILTA conference in Las Vegas in late August. I enjoy catching up with peers and friends, and attending the sessions to listen to speakers discuss hot topics, trends within the industry, and innovations that will revolutionize the way we provide services. That being said, I want everyone to take out a phrase that has been a trusty standby since 2008.  That phrase, of course, is "recent economic downturn."

You all know how it is used to introduce change:
"Since the recent economic downturn, law firms have significantly reduced / restructured / altered (yada, yada, yada) the way it does business."
This phrase isn't the first of its kind, nor will it be the last. Remember such similar introductory phrases as:
  • Since the collapse of Brobeck/Howrey/Dewey... 
  • Since 9/11
  • Since the Dot Com bubble
  • Since the collapse of the Soviet Union
  • Since the S&L crisis
  • Since the oil bust (insert relevant decade)
  • Since the OPEC embargo
  • Since the Great Depression
  • Since Noah landed the Ark
  • and so on...
I know we are all still feeling the effects of the financial industry failures of 2008 and 2009, but I think it is time to preface our reasons for changing how we conduct business on something other than subprime mortgage loan. This week, I'm starting to use "Since the Houston floods of 2015...".

I am all for leveraging a bad situation to help change bad or outdated behavior. As Rahm Emanual, and other politicians are fond of saying, "You never let a serious crisis go to waste." The problem with "recent economic downturn" is that it has run its course. It doesn't have the punch it had five years ago, and I have started seeing smirks and eye-rolling whenever a speaker starts a discussion with that phrase. (Okay... maybe it's just me that smirks and rolls my eyes.)

So all of you presenters out there who are writing your discussion points and filling in the bullet points of your PowerPoint slides, get out your red pens and cross off the phrase "recent economic downturn." Find something a little fresher to put in its place. We'll all be better for it.

In the meantime, I'll start drafting next year's blog post for outdated phrases. I think I'll start with such things as "iPads" and "Bespoke."

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David Hobbie said...


Certainly agree with your main point--there was an economic downturn, but it isn't recent any more, nor is the (US) economy in bad shape by most measures.

In the same spirit of avoiding smirks and sighs, I wanted to mention that with ILTA's growth into a number of subject matter areas and types of conferences, it no longer really works to refer to "the ILTA conference" (or simply "conference" as it was known among some IT / KM circles.) Just in June ILTA will put on a Legal Security Summit http://legalsecsummit.iltanet.org/ and also a SharePoint Symposium conference http://sharepoint.iltanet.org/ . That's why the August (& early September) conference that I hope you will be able to join us for is now being called "ILTACON," to avoid nomenclature confusion with the other conferences.

Full disclosure--I am volunteering as a "Team Coordinator" of the Information Governance track at ILTACON this year. Hope to see you there.

Greg Lambert said...

I don't know David, ILTACON sounds like some place where I'd have to show up in a costume and role play being a techie. Wait... I think I may have done that last year in Nashville. :-)

Ryan McClead said...

I'm Cosplaying Star Lord at ILTACON 2015.

Alex Macdonald said...

Great post. The overused jargon extends to less introductory verbiage too (e.g. let's be strategic). Does anyone ever not want to be strategic?

Jordan said...

Very solid point here. While it's still affecting us daily, to keep using the term will being to sound outdated. It's becoming a bit of a crutch in a way.

Anonymous said...

Can we retire "The New Normal" too?

Roger said...

Since the recent blog post, law firms have reduced their reliance on "since."


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