When many of us took the 2009 calendar off the wall and hung up the new 2010 calendar, we said “Thank God that awful year is behind us!” I’ve been hearing that the ‘downturn in the economy’ will start to improve in the first or second quarter of 2010. Like most of us, I’m ready for things to turn around and start moving back into a positive direction. Although the law firm library model has probably been changed forever due to the ’08-’09 recession, I’m worried that many in the industry (mainly in large firms) are simply ready to get back to business as usual. As I read “Urgency for Change” from the Hildebrandt blog, my fears seemed to be verified that the ‘down’ economy didn’t go down enough to produce the necessary sense of urgency needed to motivate leaders to change their overall behavior.
Given that law firm declines in profits per partner are merely tepid, rather than dramatic, creating this sense of urgency may be the biggest challenge to law firm leaders – and the longer they wait, the harder this becomes. (In fact, in a recent conference we attended, when presented with data on industry profitability in 2009, one law firm manager remarked, “You see? I think this proves how resilient our business model is.”)