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Solo In Chicago

...empowering the Second City's entrepreneurial legal community

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Small Firms and Recession

Ah the dreaded "R" Word. Hey I'm not running for public office this cycle (there is that ISBA Board of Governors seat though), I can say it. But I've been reading several articles about law firm "adjustments" to a slowing economy. Saw this today about DLA Piper (yikes its organge Website is blinding) hiring a bankruptcy/reorganization group.

How should little (but growing) guys react?

I remember a survey from The Economist a couple years back on this subject suggesting: Be Honest, Be Frugal, Be Prepared. And it went on to reference Wal-Mart executives who shared hotel rooms on the road and were encouraged to take pens/paper from conferences (the author follows this mantra as well).

I think the above advice surely applies to legal service businesses (i.e. law firms). Another item that comes to mind is the danger of over-specialization. Clearly some practice areas are getting hit pretty hard right now, i.e. real estate. If you're a one hit real estate wonder, you're struggling right now. I was speaking with a small firm partner from suburban Chicago a couple weeks back who's heavy in the residential real estate business and they had to layoff an attorney.

From personal experience, beyond bankruptcy, I've felt that domestic relations work and our condo/townhome/HOA work actually increases during economic downturns.

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