My kids keep asking what I’m going to be for Halloween. After reading today’s Above the Law round up, I’m thinking “depressed legal marketer.”

But, once again, the Pollyanna in me is coming out. I’m listening to an NPR program, Out of Practice – Law Firms and the Financial Crisis, and realizing that we’re at what could be a historic turning point for law firm management.

The program confirmed to me what I’ve been hearing from my consultant friends: Those running the law firms – administrative partners, managing partners, executive board members – are taking a good hard look at their business models, and are open to change.

Law firms today, for the most part, are managed the same way they have for the past hundred years. Partners annually underwrite law firm operations from the real estate leases, to the books on the shelves, and everything in between. At the end of the year, the partners cash out the profits, and begin the year on a credit line. If the bank cancels your credit line, as they did with Thelen, the firm has no choice but to shut its doors, immediately. Profits from one year will not be used to carry the firm through the next.

But does it have to be so bleak? I find that it really comes down to attitude and choices. We can go with the doom and gloom driven by so many of the consultancies, or look forward to 2009 as an opportunity for growth and change.

  • Now might be the time to review your partnership agreements.
  • Now might be the time to upgrade to or hire a CEO.
  • Now might be the time to initiate, and follow, a strategic plan.
  • Now might be the time to explore growth opportunities.

Rather than look back and get depressed, I choose to look forward and be inspired.