As I logged onto the news this morning I kept seeing headlines like Wall Street Braces for More, Market Swing Amid AIG Drama and AIG, Lehman Shock Hits World Markets. But this one brought it home, as the fallout will hit each and every one of us personally, London, New York Stand to Suffer:

Jobs in financial services tend to be more important for the overall economy. About 5% of New York City’s jobs are in financial services, but they account for about a quarter of wages, some $60 billion in 2006, according to the New York Office of the State Comptroller. That same year, personal and corporate taxes paid by the securities industry accounted for about 10% of the city’s tax revenue.

But it’s not just the WSJ, NYT and LATimes that are reporting the effects. The Insurance Insider, a trade publication for my firms’ clients, in an article this morning, Four cat bonds on negative following Lehman collapse, summed it up (emphasis added):

… no asset class can be completely isolated from turmoil in the wider financial world.

It’s not just the corporate types who will be affected by the imminent extinction of Merrill and Lehman. There are a lot of litigators out there billing these companies–and worrying about losing them as clients.

What’s going on at large law firms right now?Everyone is nervous. And it’s not a good thing to be a lawyer and to be nervous.

“There’s not a firm in the city that’s not terrified about what’s going on right now,” a managing partner of one top New York firm tells Tony Lin of sibling publication New York Law Journal. The source asked to remain unnamed because he was dealing with a heavy volume of client inquiries about the current situation.

If you think that you or your law firm is immune, think again. Linda Hazelton, Hazelton Marketing & Management, is doing a presentation this week at the LMA-Southeast Conference on Marketing During a Recession. I’ve asked her to share with us some of her main points, and perhaps feedback from those in the rooms.

Until we hear from Linda, here are a few of my suggestions:

  • What are your clients’ key industry pubs reporting on today? Understand how the financial markets impact their companies.
  • If your clients/referral sources are at risk, call and see how you can be of service to THEM. Not just their companies, but THEM. If their company is on the brink of collapse or bankruptcy, their first concerns will be about putting food on their table, not who is handling the filings.
  • Face time. Face time. Face time. You need to be, and stay, top-of-mind with your key contacts.
  • For we marketers, time to start thinking about clearing our budgets of “unnecessary” items. Now might not be the best time to kick-off a rebranding campaign or overhaul the website. I’m not going to ask for a high-capacity color laser printer right now. End-of-year charitable contributions/tables-of-ten will soon be reaching your desks. How are you going to evaluate them?
As I told Linda last week: if it doesn’t involve business development right now, it’s not on my radar. I want to be able to track financial ROI in the form of new business to anything that I propose doing.