Down times in 2009

March 8, 2010
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Was 2009 really the worst year for the legal market in the past 50 years? Apparently so, according to a report released earlier this month analyzing the legal market last year and trends expected for this year.

Hildebrandt Baker Robbins consulting firm and Citi Private Bank claim last year was really bad – so bad that most attorneys practicing now are too young to remember a worse time.

Demand for legal services declined at a faster pace in 2009 than in 2007 and 2008, outside counsel spending dropped, billing and collection realization rates fell, and many in the legal community lost their jobs. More than 5,000 attorneys lost their jobs last year with the top 250 law firms in the country; thousands more attorneys, paralegals, and other legal professionals lost jobs. I’d say last year was pretty bad.

Looking ahead to 2010, the report may see a glimmer of hope for recovery, but nothing to get excited about. Although fewer legal workers have lost their jobs recently, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will still be cost-cutting measures, which could include jobs. In trouble could be partners, whose numbers grew during the downturn. Chances are profits per equity partner will be flat or up slightly, but it’s dependent on location, practice, clients, etc.

The report also emphasizes the impact rate increases during 2001 through 2007 had on the growth of law firms and the legal market. Firms often increased rates 6 to 8 percent each year, but now clients are pushing back. This push back is likely to stick around for a while. The report encourages firms to implement new models for pricing legal services, as well as recruiting and retaining attorneys, and partnering with other service providers.

It’s a “buyers market” right now. Have you seen any changes in your firm to respond to any of the issues addressed in the report?
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  1. File under the Sociology of Hoosier Discipline ... “We will be answering the complaint in due course and defending against the commission’s allegations,” said Indianapolis attorney Don Lundberg, who’s representing Hudson in her disciplinary case. FOR THOSE WHO DO NOT KNOW ... Lundberg ran the statist attorney disciplinary machinery in Indy for decades, and is now the "go to guy" for those who can afford him .... the ultimate insider for the well-to-do and/or connected who find themselves in the crosshairs. It would appear that this former prosecutor knows how the game is played in Circle City ... and is sacrificing accordingly. See more on that here ... http://www.theindianalawyer.com/supreme-court-reprimands-attorney-for-falsifying-hours-worked/PARAMS/article/43757 Legal sociologists could have a field day here ... I wonder why such things are never studied? Is a sacrifice to the well connected former regulators a de facto bribe? Such questions, if probed, could bring about a more just world, a more equal playing field, less Stalinist governance. All of the things that our preambles tell us to value could be advanced if only sunshine reached into such dark worlds. As a great jurist once wrote: "Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman." Other People's Money—and How Bankers Use It (1914). Ah, but I am certifiable, according to the Indiana authorities, according to the ISC it can be read, for believing such trite things and for advancing such unwanted thoughts. As a great albeit fictional and broken resistance leaders once wrote: "I am the dead." Winston Smith Let us all be dead to the idea of maintaining a patently unjust legal order.

  2. The Department of Education still has over $100 million of ITT Education Services money in the form of $100+ million Letters of Credit. That money was supposed to be used by The DOE to help students. The DOE did nothing to help students. The DOE essentially stole the money from ITT Tech and still has the money. The trustee should be going after the DOE to get the money back for people who are owed that money, including shareholders.

  3. Do you know who the sponsor of the last-minute amendment was?

  4. Law firms of over 50 don't deliver good value, thats what this survey really tells you. Anybody that has seen what they bill for compared to what they deliver knows that already, however.

  5. As one of the many consumers affected by this breach, I found my bank data had been lifted and used to buy over $200 of various merchandise in New York. I did a pretty good job of tracing the purchases to stores around a college campus just from the info on my bank statement. Hm. Mr. Hill, I would like my $200 back! It doesn't belong to the state, in my opinion. Give it back to the consumers affected. I had to freeze my credit and take out data protection, order a new debit card and wait until it arrived. I deserve something for my trouble!

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