“You can’t save your way to growth” is a common refrain. In the current economic turmoil, however, growing revenue is hard so the focus must be on cost control. A recent report, article, and conference session drive home this point. 

Hildebrandt is a leading legal market consultancy. The Hildebrandt Special Client Advisory: Fall 2008 notes that

“the current downturn has not yet been significantly offset by increases in other traditionally “counter-cyclical” practices…. the current year will represent a significant downturn for the legal industry… we are unlikely to see any significant turnaround until late 2009, at the earliest… firms [will be] forced to lay off legal and non-legal staff, slow down the hiring of new attorneys, restructure operations, and weed out unprofitable practices.”

The Advisory suggests steps to deal with the downturn, including focus on collections, negotiate credit agreements, examine expenses closely, consider layoffs, deal with performance issues, and adjust practice areas. Longer term, Hildebrandt says we may see more fundamental changes such as new lawyer compensation systems, alternative billing, and more legal process outsourcing.

Driving home many of these points is the new article Partners at UK’s ten biggest law firms take home