Well I go on holiday for a week and return to the news of one major commercial law firm going into administration and other massive names making cuts.
One of the biggest firms to get into difficulties is Cobbetts who have gone into Administration. They employ over 550 staff almost half of whom are qualified lawyers. They were well established in commercial litigation, especially Agency Disputes which is an area in which my own firm has many cases. The news is a big shock to many of us as they had a strong reputation and were recently close to a merger with well known lawyers DWF.
This development comes on the back of news that mega firms, Eversheds, DLA Piper and Allen and Overy are all cutting staff.
In all of my 30 years as a Solicitor I have never known so many casualties as the deepest recession that we have known continues to hit firms who seemed unsinkable.
So in the words of Private Frazer are we all doooomed?? Well we are certainly in tough times. Don’t even get me started on the problems that will soon face Personal Injury Lawyers –
But despite all of this there is scope for optimism. The practice of law is changing but it will still continue. It may continue in a way that is unrecognisable to many of us but lawyers who embrace the change are likely to become stronger. So who are they? I think we will see many different initiatives from more imaginative lawyers – such as those who thought of offering legal services via the Eddie Stobart brand or those offering business advice via an annual fixed fee.
I have gone on at length about the need for firms to develop social media connections and communicate with clients in the real world! The days when clients came back to their ‘family firm’ have gone. The days when certain safe areas of work guaranteed a nice living have gone. Firms who cannot or will not see that are in for a rough time.
But for others it is a time that will present opportunities. The underlying legal issues will not go away. Neither will those law firms who plan their response to change.