Recent years have been good for law firms of all kinds and sizes. But good days can’t last forever. Whether the next downturn hurting law firms gets traced to a world-wide virus, political disruption, or just a plain old recession, it doesn’t really matter. What matters for law firms having to ride the looming bumpy
Although many law firms are enjoying increased demand, revenues and profitability, not all firms are so fortunate. For the firms seeing a sustained slackening of demand, there is no shortage of ideas on how to combat the problem. “Work harder,” “get out and hustle,” and “reconnect with your relationships,” are but a few of the…
Let’s face it, the hugely important issue of law firm succession has a lot to do with senior attorney retirement. Recognizing that, more law firms have prepared for coming retirements by infusing new leadership, transferring existing client relationship responsibility, and coaching the next generations to be business developers. When succession is done right, a firm…
The concentration of law firm financial strength narrows as fewer AmLaw 200 law firms can be counted among the fortunate. As Mark A. Cohen argues in his The AmLaw 200 Is Down to 50 – Maybe 20. What does It Mean? a fiscal separation among bigger firms has occurred and continues. Cohen concludes that the…
“Preparation is very important.”
“Albert Pujols, one of the best hitters in baseball’s modern era, used this four-word phrase to describe one of his keys for success. It is not overly complicated and it is easily understood. The fundamental quality of being prepared—of keeping his eye on the ball figuratively in addition to, in the…
“For law firm leader, there is little room for error when crisis ensues. A mistake here, a misstep there, and lawyers at the firm begin to lose confidence in the firm and its leadership”
“Law firm disasters are almost always of the man-made variety…. Once a storm is brewing, add the fact that as business organizations go, a law firm is among the most fragile, and you have the climate for a series of catastrophic events.”
Charles Darwin said so profoundly “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”
Our practice is seeing an increasing number of firms tested by their ability to adapt. The news reflects a growing number of firms in obvious transition. From high-profile names to lesser-known partnerships, the leaders of each firm faces pivotal decisions. Some of these firms will restructure or otherwise embark on a turnaround strategy. Others opt for merging with another group or offering themselves as an acquisition target in an effort to avoid dissolution. History has shown far too many end in a messy liquidation.
Identifying The Path That Leads To Decline
The decline of a once vibrant partnership rarely has much to do with the quality of lawyers engaged in the practice. And though the marketplace is certainly tumultuous, what is at the heart of survival and success for some, and the dire straits of a struggle to survive for others?
In his book Corporate Turnaround, Dan Bibeault identifies four key mistakes that lead to organizational decline. These mistakes, paraphrased to the legal profession are:
- Failure to respond effectively to a changing competitive environment
- Poor control over operations
- Operating with excessive financial leverage
Let’s look at each one a bit more closely.…
The typical press release announcing a law firm merger extolls the excitement, the opportunity to have one plus one equal three, and the great fit of culture, practices and people. It’s perfect until it is not. In fact, by some measures more than half of all law firm mergers fail. When the realization sets in that your law firm merger is a bad one and not the combination of your dreams, what can you do?
Besides whistling past the graveyard, you’ve got to do something. And while a solution stimulated by panic is not recommended, prompt action is advisable. As action plan options go, the following three options generally are presented and often are considered:
As the calendar year comes to a close, there is a lot to do at most law firms. Activities like collecting bills, distributing profits and casting next year’s budget can occupy many a leadership team. The tasks at hand can be time consuming and all engrossing. Given the importance of these short-term issues, thinking about…