I have always resisted doing a “yearly predictions” post, but the leftover egg nog may be clouding my judgment.
The complete list is being sent out later today to subscribers of Wired GC – Select. For those who haven’t yet subscribed, here are items 1 and 10. For those who subscribe before mid-January, the complete list will be sent upon signing up.
So, here we go…
1. The Budget will Rule (and there’s Less to Go Around).
Despite legal industry surveys that appear to show increases in spending, budgets will come under withering pressure in 2008. The GC will be called on the carpet on all major line items. The Financial Times saw this as well late last week (reg req $$), when an editorial trenchantly described two delusions that persist at many professional services firms: “The first is the belief that the good times are going to last for ever; the second, a tendency to fall for their own story: that what they provide is absolutely crucial to their clientsâ€™ success and that their business models are therefore invulnerable.” As credit tightens and the global economy slows, there’s less need for major spending, and more focus on everything else.
Items 2-10 follow from number 1, like sand through an hourglass (billable?). Number 10 is something I’ve never totally understood:
10. More Law Firm Mergers (and less that Make Long-Term Sense).
There have been a few mergers announced in late 2007 that will (potentially) close in 2008. One, involving the Husch and Blackwell firms, has a distinct Midwest feel; the other, involving Mayer, Brown and Hong Kong, more global. I wish these firms well, but as we saw in number 9, law firms are no longer the major focus of most enlightened in-house counsel. You can’t buy lawyers (you just rent them for awhile) and many transactions seem to be more about shuffling deck chairs than creating market differentiation or strategic client value.
There’s also a bonus “prediction.” It’s somewhat cryptic, because (a) I know it will come true and (b) I can’t tell why right now.
So now it’s time to party like it’s 1999, just with a designated driver like it’s 2007.