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?
Our strategy work with law firms is focused on planning for the future. Three to five years ago our strategy work often involved developing a 2020 vision and strategy – 2020 had a nice ring to it. Now we have arrived in 2020 and the future is today.
Every firm likely has a sacred cow or two or three. The challenge, and the opportunity, is to make sure those sacred cows continue to serve the firm well over time.
While the precise timing of a downturn may be impossible to predict, it is important for law firm leaders to prepare well in advance, and that time is now. It is unlikely that the next downturn will be as sharp or as lengthy as the crisis of 2008, but law firms are increasingly sensitive to market forces, so preparation is critical.