I’ve been speaking with my friends in the legal industry, and there is a new sense of panic starting to set in.

  • Linklaters has let go 270, including 120 lawyers, and 150 professionals. That’s 17.5% of the non-partner fee earners.
  • 200 lose jobs at MoFo, including 53 attorneys and 148 staff. That’s 5% of the attorney ranks gone.
  • The Marketing Partner Forum is being held this week in Dana Point. A key conference in the legal industry and paid registrations are said to be down significantly from years past (250 total attendees, approximately 125-150 paid).

In this time of uncertainty, I would encourage all of us to take a few moments each day and see what we can do to pay it forward, to be kind, to think of those about us who might not be as secure in their jobs as we are in ours (for now). It really doesn’t take but a moment to look outside ourselves and see what is happening in our immediate, and extended, worlds.

@jaynenavarre forwarded me Jason Calacanis’ post today, We Live in Public (and the end of empathy). It’s long, but worth the time to read.

One point that struck me is how Jason is challenging our loss of empathy in the world of technology. How quickly we can flame a person, causing such harm. How quickly we can bitterly use our keypads to rip to shreds another human being. How quickly we can gossip about layoffs, not recognizing the lives destroyed.

Where have our empathy and humanity gone?

About now you might be asking, “What does this have to do with panic in the legal industry?” So here it goes:

So often we discuss the layoffs in our industry as either gossip, or as an opportunity for “our” firm to take advantage of another which is weakened. Yet, law firm layoffs are more than gossip. These are real people, as I wrote about here. No one is immune. No job 100% secure.

In time, the economy will recover, our clients will recover, and our industry will recover.

My question is, “what will YOU be like when that day comes?” Will you be able to hold your head up high and say that you conducted your business dealings with dignity, compassion and empathy?

I have been in legal marketing for 11 years now, and I have never seen the industry in such a state. Many of us work with lawyers. They are far more skeptical, autonomous and rank lower in sociability. For those of us with a seat at the table, I would encourage us all to bring that voice of compassion and empathy with us to our discussions and strategy sessions. We might be the only voice of reason at the table that day.