Lots of news about the legal market this week. It feels like we could be at a tipping point. Wait, I hope we are. The alternative may be worse. 

On the editorial page of the New York Times today, Adam Cohen penned With the Downturn, It’s Time to Rethink the Legal Profession. “The silver lining [of recent bad news], if there is one, is that the legal world may be inspired to draw blueprints for the 21st century. ” Cohen goes on to explain potential changes – a very good read.

Let’s hope he’s right about those blueprints. For a great visual view of what’s happening in BigLaw, take a look at the rolling 12 month large law firm lay-off chart at Law Shucks. The surging layoffs of lawyers and staff is personally disastrous for many. What does it portend for the legal market?

To help answer that question, read the Tuesday David Brooks op-ed piece Car Dealer in Chief (31 Mar 09). He observes that the real problem at GM is that it has implicitly viewed itself as in the restructuring business for 30 years. “There are many experts who think that the whole restructuring strategy is misbegotten… The real problem is the product. The cars are not good enough. The management is insular.”

Hmmm, with a word substitution or two, might he say that a few years from now about BigLaw? When I look at the lay-off chart, it looks like BigLaw is, so far, following the GM plan. Let’s hope not.