Terry Conner Discusses the State of Big Firms in 2009

01/26/2009

Recession Batters Law Firms, Triggering Layoffs
Wall Street Journal 

After upending a succession of U.S. industries, the recession has arrived for U.S. law firms, which have long seen themselves as partially insulated from economic downturns.

Throughout the industry, business has dropped off in such key practice areas as mergers, public offerings, and corporate finance. Litigation, often counted on to carry firms through downturns, has become less profitable as clients increasingly settle big cases, forgo lawsuits altogether, or pressure firms to discount their fees, lawyers say. Some practice areas, such as bankruptcy, however, are robust.

Lawyers and consultants say they expect profits to continue slumping this year. "Given the pressure on the industry now, I would expect that more firms could dissolve in 2009 or seek a white-knight merger," says Terry Conner, managing partner of Dallas-based Haynes and Boone LLP, which so far appears to be faring better than many firms.

Article excerpted from the Wall Street Journal.

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