Planning Realistically In A Time of Economic Distress


There is a wonderful old Russian folk tale about the family in a sled being chased by ferocious wolves. To slow down the wolves, thinking to protect the remaining family members, they threw children overboard.

That story comes to mind as we watch the law and accounting firms, chased by the wolves of a depressing economy, decimate their firms by furloughing or firing staff, deferring new hires, cutting salaries, and otherwise taking draconian measures to slash costs and, presumably, to save firms. In too many cases, these actions are precipitous and short sighted, with no view of the future. There is a notion that when economic conditions improve, there will be a large pool of talent waiting to be recalled. Maybe, but not likely. It seems probable that in too many cases, this kind of thinking will reduce once vibrant firms to impotent skeletons in a highly competitive market. For larger firms, pursuing these practices may mean creating firms that of themselves will substantially alter the nature of legal or accounting practice. For the accountants and lawyers jettisoned under these policies, it means living with regret at having wasted all those years, all that education and all those apprenticeships, and all that money, to no fulfillment of promise. If the downturn lasts long enough, it means monumental changes in career plans. And who will be able to wait around waiting for the law and accounting firms to recover? What can be done now that anticipates functioning successfully as recovery kicks in?

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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