A new year should start with optimism, tempered with clarity.
UK’s The Lawyer has a good summary of the pulse of some major law firms at the start 2010.
My favorite nugget is from Charles Martin of Macfarlanes:
â€œFinancially it would be brave to think that 2010 is going to be a vast improvement on 2009. Against that background, prudent law firms will continue to sharpen efficiency levels, look at better client service and improve ways of organising themselves internally.â€
He hits at least three of what should be in the top five on the legal agenda.
The good news is that all three are related, the challenge is in the execution. I think what law firms will realize in 2010 is something that Corporate America has known for some time:
As painful as reducing headcount is, it actually is the easiest step to take. It is much harder to figure out how to do the right things with fewer people. Too many firms (or their clients) think that some talk about “doing more with less” will suffice. It doesn’t.
For a law firm to change how it is organized internally and deployed to clients externally requires a sea change in management substance and style. Most firms will find it exceptionally hard to do well. But it’s necessary and worth it.
So 2010 starts on a positive note, we will see if the managing partners can keep everyone on the same page.
(Update: Comcast’s GC Art Block gives a clear message from the client; it’s linked from our newstream site, Law River).