Layoffs are pounding the legal profession in the Philadelphia legal community. Firms are merging in order to stay alive in the recession. Wolf Block, with over 300 lawyers, went under in late March. In early March, Morgan Lewis & Bockius announced it was laying off 55 lawyers and 161 support staff. Big and medium size law firms have lots of overhead in terms of salaries, rent, equipment, you name it. They can’t be nimble in an economic downturn, at least not nimble enough. They can’t change course quckly enough to catch new opportunities in the legal marketplace.
Of course, the same pressures that medium and large law firms face are no different than the pressures faced by other businesses. Any business owner can testify to the fact that opportunities for growth abound, even in this recession. But slight adjustments in a company’s or law firm’s business plan must be on the books (at all times) and ready to be acted upon (when needed).
Smaller law firms don’t face quite the same financial pressures as their larger counterparts. In this economy, that could turn out to be a benefit for consumers in need of legal services.