The legal profession has changed dramatically and the job market for lawyers is tough. Not exactly breaking news, right? Anyone who has any connection to the legal industry knows that the Great Recession, and other factors such as technology, alternative legal service providers and LPO’s, have had a severe impact on the industry which is still being felt today. Numerous articles and books have been written about this topic and I don’t see much point in rehashing it here.
Instead, I’d like to shift the conversation to the related questions which have not been discussed nearly as much and which, in my opinion, are more important: What are we going to do about it? What is the best way for members of the legal profession to proceed in the New Normal?
We all know about the problems, and while it is important to understand the nature of the problems and the underlying reasons for them, it is more important to develop a strategy for addressing the problems. My hope for all of us, as members of the legal community, is that we will begin to spend more time searching for individual solutions and less time focused on the difficulties facing the profession.
This will not be easy, of course, and there will not be a universal panacea. The solutions will require both individual efforts as well as institutional initiatives. But I believe lawyers are up to the challenge. Lawyers are, with few exceptions, intelligent, creative, driven, goal-oriented professionals. A person cannot graduate from law school and pass the Bar exam without these personal attributes. These same attributes can be used by attorneys to overcome the present challenges of the legal market.
The profession has taken a hit, a big hit. We’ve been knocked down by an economic downturn and relentless market forces. It’s time to get back up and make a plan for moving forward. The legal profession of the 90’s and early 00’s is gone. We can lament that fact and spend our energy wishing things could be like that again, or we can accept that reality and figure out what we are going to do about it. The choice is ours.