Law firms have a problem: growth is at a standstill or shrinking, reducing lawyers' income and compromising partners' profits. Many firms believe they have a solution: slash costs and inject revenue. They fire secretaries, cut back on associates, de-equitize low-income partners, and acquire high-income partners, all to maintain or increase profit.
These are short-term fixes, unsustainable by definition: you can only fire people once, and there are only so many lateral hires. But there's a much bigger problem here, the one that will eventually bring these firms down from the inside.
The problem is this: partners are refusing to absorb any pain.
The changing legal market is inflicting damage on law firms unable or unwilling to adapt to a different environment -- that's what is hurting growth. But the owners of these firms are shielding themselves from the suffering, redirecting it to the vulnerable today or cutting short-term deals that could hamstring their successors tomorrow. ...
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