Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle. – Napoleon Hill

The market volatility during the last year and the increasing concerns about a coming recession foreshadow risk for many law firms.   Additional market disruption may lead to challenges for firms of all sizes and in most practice disciplines.

In a Forbes article, Basha Rubin suggested that we might be seeing the end of the mid-tier firm. Rubin’s reasoning is that the growth of in-house counsel staff and their use of temporary legal resources to manage a fluctuating workload is likely to hit the mid-tier firm particularly hard. That may be true but we see emerging challenges for firms from small to large.

Step Away From The Ledge, And Remember What It Takes To Maintain Stability

There is no denying that an increasing number of forces are creating pressure on many firms; and new uncertainties in the economy may become an additional one. However, the fundamentals of what it takes to maintain a successful practice remain the same – for firms of any size. Here’s a quick primer.

  • Manage obligations to a low and sustainable level. This means:
    • Not committing to expensive (and extravagant) office space. Resist the siren song of that newest office tower – and the long term lease and increased fixed-cost-per-lawyer that comes with it.
  • Limit hiring of permanent lawyer and support staff until an extended and reliable need has been established. In the interim, learn to rely on part time, and temporary resources.
  • Focus your practice on an area of law for which you have a passion, and for which there is a significant demand.
  • Strengthen and expand your relationships. This means the network of those that you have a direct relationship with, and those that can be developed in person or increasingly through social media.
  • Do work of a quality that will bring clients back, and turn them into referral sources.
  • Maintain (or initiate) a rigorous process for client feedback and conversations that transcend specific matters or projects. This is increasingly central to long-term, stable relationships.

Success is not about size. In fact, solid growth and profitability are not dependent on or guaranteed by the addition of people, offices or the obligations that accompany them.

Success and stability are about purpose, passion, wise management and a relentless focus on nurturing and growing your network.