2009 caught law firms largely by surprise, without any adequate plans in place to deal with the malaise then affecting the legal profession. 2011 now looks even more frightening for law firms. Law firms continue to confront extreme economic turbulence. The harbingers for the economy bode particularly badly for law firms. Law firms confront new competition from outsourcing firms, which are now offering their services directly to clients, circumventing law firms, which previously subcontracted these legal outsourcing firms (LPO’s). Even as fixed costs for law firms inexorably rise, despite dramatic expense reductions undertaken during the last eighteen months, corporations continue to reduce their budgets for retention of outside counsel. Added economic factors are adding to the challenges facing law firms: An unsteady lending market, further weakened by the current mortgage foreclosure crisis; the failure by the Federal government to take the steps necessary to revive the economy; the likelihood that the resurgence of the Republican Party will further exacerbate any efforts of the Federal government to take desperately needed measures to revive the economy. But now that law firms can and should see over the horizon, meticulous planning for the coming months are crucial.
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