Today, perhaps more so than ever before, law firm leaders are under pressure. As new and unprecedented world events arise on a nearly daily basis, law firms as businesses and service organizations require new, untested, and unproven leadership approaches. These approaches range from moving the firm’s entire workforce to a remote working environment, to virtual people management, to remote staffing and team coordination, to creative and proactive client service and retention strategies, and to making hard business decisions to preserve the stability of the firm without a clear picture of what the future holds.
In the second and third quarters of last year, economic advisers warned of a potential mild to moderate economic downturn in 2020 or 2021, and in light of those concerns we wrote our July Insight, Managing in a Downturn. At that time, no one anticipated the rapid series of events which have impacted the world over the past 4-6 weeks and the global recession we will likely face over the coming months.
Not all revenue dollars are created equal. So, how should firms balance the important role of profitability with the challenges it can create in order to incentivize and encourage partners to pursue more profitable work or to manage the work more effectively?
Volatility has become more common in the legal industry and firms must be prepared to deal with the consequences. As we potentially head in to tougher economic times, leaders need to be thinking ahead and managing proactively.
Following the recent release of public reports on law firm financial performance, it is easy to become preoccupied with year-over-year changes to key metrics. However, an even more interesting perspective emerges when we step back and analyze the changes in the legal industry over multiple decades.