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Law Practice Management

Too Many Lawyers, Too Little Work: More Layoffs Are Likely, Expert Says

Posted Apr 29, 2009 8:30 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Too many lawyers are chasing too little work. And meanwhile a number of law firms are effectively serving as bankers for cash-strapped clients struggling in a difficult economy.

After a "disastrous" fourth quarter in 2008, many law firms can expect an even more worrisome 2009, writes Dan DiPietro in the Am Law Daily. He serves as client head of the law firm group of Citi Private Bank, which is known for the financial surveys it conducts among its more than 600 law firm clients in the United States and United Kingdom.

More law firm layoffs are likely, DiPietro predicts, based on what he hears from law firm leaders about the legal business. Although he wasn't optimistic last year, he is more pessimistic now about the economic outlook for the legal industry than he was in November.

This is the time for change-averse lawyers to make bold decisions to fix a broken business model, he writes. Among his suggestions: consider alternatives to charging clients on a billable-hours basis and tie associate pay to job performance.

"These are times that cry out for boldness and innovation. But the window will not stay open for long," he writes. "Who among you will be the first to act?"

Related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: "Will 2008 Be Law Firms’ Worst Year Since Early 1990s?"

ABAJournal.com: "Hildebrandt: Cut Associate Salaries Now"

ABAJournal.com: "BigLaw ‘Has Changed Forever,’ Says Womble Carlyle, Cutting Pay 10 Percent"

ABAJournal.com: "NYT: It’s Time to Rethink the Legal Profession"

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