Rescue at Sea by Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky (Russian, 1817-1900)

 Approximately 60% the world's law firms will begin a new fiscal year on 1 January 2021. Many others will enter the final quarter or trimester of their old fiscal year. Despite the economic uncertainties that confront most countries and most law firms in 2021, there is a lot that you can do to get better business results in 2021, and even in 2022.

But you need to act now.

View on the Pearl River Macao, Eduard Hildebrandt (1850)

Here is our latest reading list, which offer links to the top current news and commentary about strategic issues in the legal services industry: China Legal Horizons.

 

Click here to view and download the July 2020 issue.

iStock image licensed to Walker Clark LLC

The rapid development of the Dark Web and the adoption of new operational modes in the legal services industry, such as working at home, pose substantial new threats to many law firms that might have previously assumed, correctly or not, that they were "immune" from hacking and ransomware.

There are several basic steps that any law firm, or any size and anywhere, can take to reduce the risks.

Banish the phrase "new normal" from your thinking about the future.

 As law firms begin to think about operations after the pandemic subsides, many of their partners have been using the phrase  new normal.  This mindset -- that the future will be just a continuation of the past -- is as risky to the future of your law firm as ingesting bleach or taking ineffective, dangerous drugs to fight a coronavirus.

By Photographer: Pete McBride, U.S. Geological Survey - http://gallery.usgs.gov/photos/10_15_2010_rvm8Pdc55J_10_15_2010_0#.Ur0mcvfTnrd, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30350057

The Colorado River in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico no longer flows into the Sea of Cortez. Instead, due to diversion for irrigation upstream, it evaporates in the desert about nine kilometers away.

Many law firms are experiencing an analogous situation with cash flow during the COVID-19 crisis.

But not all of them.

iStock image licensed to Walker Clark LLC

An article posted today in the Law Society Gazette suggests that as many as 5,000 small English law firms and solo practices could be forced out of business within the next six months. Most of these firms are retail firms, or "high street" firms, that primarily serve individual clients and small businesses in relatively small matters, such as real estate conveyancing.

The problem, in a word, is cashflow.

public domain image

The coronavirus collapse has the potential to be worse than the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Developed countries, like the United States, might be at even greater risk.

Law firms, especially small and midsize ones, need to start making plans that they hope will never be needed. The most important questions might seem to be hypothetical at this point, but they must be asked now, not once the economy "opens up" again.

portrait of Robert Louis Stevenson

Resilience  has become a big buzz-word in the business world during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the legal services industry is not immune from it.

But what does resilient leadership look like in a law firm? How do the leaders of a law firm -- both the titular ones and the de facto ones -- successfully guide their organizations through bad times?

This article, first published in Walker Clark World View in 2015 and updated for the current crisis management context, offers six actions to build resilient leadership in a law firm. Remember, the goal is not just to get through the current storms, but to emerge from them stronger than before. To do this, everyone in a legal services organization -- but especially in law firms -- need to deal with some very disquieting questions.

public domain image

The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 has introduced social distancing as a basic business practice.

We also need to master the skills of business intimacy. 

By Jonas Petersson (UU) - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=64608056

Take good notes.

Document everything.

Effective crisis management involves more than just good planning. It also is a valuable learning experience.