Predictions For The Legal Industry In 2010

As a nation we have seen our fair share of turmoil in the past two years. It seems like one financial event trumps the previous one. If it was not the Bernard Madoff scandal it was double digit unemployment.  But as our country goes through this roller-coaster of change we also need to adapt and realize that growth and success is possible in any market. As the legal industry downsizes and changes in hiring practices occur, the ones that are aware of the new environment will be able to further their career. So lets look forward to 2010! What are the analysts predicting?

Downsizing coming to a standstill

Firms used the financial crisis to slim down significantly, both out of necessity and as a chance to unload unproductive associates that have been on there payroll for to long. For example in 2009 we saw the headline “Megafirm is cutting 38 attorneys and 86 paralegals and staff in its North American offices”, reported by Above the Law, based on a written statement provided by Baker & McKenzie. They said, “but while we can be confident that the economic outlook will inevitably brighten, it is difficult to know when the upturn will begin.”

As we know in 2009 industry leaders predicted that salaries would be frozen and would stay there.  Above the Law reported that certain firms are  giving associates class-appropriate raises that will return them back to a regular scale. Which is not a drastic increase, but it means the industry is back in business.  There is talk in the industry about certain firms moving to a merit based system, but it does not seem that it will take over  industry practices.

Promotions will be conservative but trend upwards

Like in the past law firms will promote lawyers in a conservative manner, but as the economy and markets recover there will be advancements within firms.  These trends will be different from firm to firm due to structural differences.

What method will be used to profit
There seems to be a trend that clients are starting to set there own rules on billing, from hourly contract to a fixed fee rate. It should be interesting to see how this one plays out. For example, the Chicago Tribune reported that “Northfield-based Kraft Foods Inc. chose to do this by holding a bid process this year for its international, day-to-day legal services”.  A very interesting idea.

Those are some of the predictions from our industry leaders…

The trend of optimism is a nice way for the legal industry to start the New Year! There is no better time like the present to find that position that will excite, inspire and impact your over all well being. The first step to starting the year off on the right foot is by looking at your current situation by doing a Job Satisfaction Survey.  Change can be a good thing.