When lawyers turned the calendar page to January 2020, they could not have dreamt of the two-fold nightmare that would descend upon the profession so quickly. A global pandemic and a troubled economy at the same time? We thought we had seen the end of hard times when we finally emerged from The Great Recession in 2009. Some of our lawyer friends still have lines of credit to pay down from that recession.
The New Normal
In the “new normal,” we learned that lawyers could work effectively from home. In the beginning, it was a bit of a mess getting everyone working remotely and safely but it was accomplished with amazing speed.
As we write this in May, new legal matters are down more than 30% according to a survey by Clio. 56% percent of legal professionals say they have seen a serious reduction in the number of people asking for legal help, and 53% say they are significantly less busy.
Sixty-seven percent of lawyers are worried about the success (and even the survival) of their practice and 57% are worried about making a living over the next few months.
We have also seen in a May LAW.COM report on actions taken by major law firms in response to the economic downturn. Firm after firm reported some mixture of layoffs, furloughs, hiring freezes, pay cuts, reductions in party distributions, freezes on discretionary expenses and suspension of summer associate programs.
Young lawyers are looking at a grim future. Those who graduated this year and passed the bar will not likely find jobs and those who have been with firms for just a year or two are the most likely to be laid off or furloughed. Add to that the burden of their student loans and it is no wonder that they are so anxious.