gearsA recent editorial in the New York Times suggests that the current economic crisis will force big changes in the structure of the legal profession and legal careers in general. Gone are the days of high billing rates, stratospheric big firm salaries and huge billable requirements.


There is no doubt that the economy is forcing large firms to downsize their attorney and support staffs. The daily hit parade of layoffs means that a lot of lawyers are “in transition”.  What does this mean for the average Jane or Joe lawyer?  Here are a few thoughts.

1) Skills matter.

Now more than ever, it’s important to take stock of what you can deliver to your employer and clients. Good lawyers will continue to be employed and make money because they do what they do well. If you want to keep your job, you need to prove your value. If you want out, or think you might be shown the door, think about what experiences and background you can take with you. Clients and employers are more bottom-line oriented than ever.

2) Time to think creatively.

A lot of people will be hustling for new employment or starting new endeavors. Ask yourself what you really want to do next. How important is it for you to use your legal training? If it is important, what places can use your skills beyond the usual suspects (like larger firms or government agencies)? If you’ve been wanting to do something outside of the law, what is it and what needs to happen for you to take the next step? What are you good at and what’s holding you back?

3) Talk to people.

The tendency in these times is to hunker down. There are a lot of people who are trying to figure things out. Exchanging ideas with friends, co-workers, intitmate partners, your dry cleaner, etc., may net you some helpful leads. At a minimum, you won’t feel alone.

The Chinese have a curse — “May you live in interesting times.” It’s up to you to decide if the current uncertainty is a curse or a blessing in disguise.

With the Downturn, It’s Time to Rethink the Legal Profession | New York Times

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