Solicitors Journal

SimplyLawJobs: How To Make It Through The Downturn

With the “credit crunch” already causing a stir it was only going to be a matter of time before the three R’s – Recession, Redundancy and Retraining – were going to cause the region’s lawyers some problems.

Some of the Leeds “Big Six” are already making redundancy announcements and with the region’s middle tier following suit it might be time to rethink your career path – at least as a precautionary escape route should the fateful Private & Confidential letter land on your desk.

An economic downturn gives firms and lawyers a rare opportunity to sit back and take stock, although this opportunity should not be neglected either.

After the files have been archived, the “to do” list exhausted and the desk tidied, cleaned and polished your thoughts should turn to you and your clients.

Rather than sitting by the phone waiting for it to ring, watching the inbox expecting work to be handed to you, be proactive and keep in touch with your commercial clients who might also be suffering from the downturn.

Certain industries are harder hit than others, but also recover much quicker. If you retain the relationship when times are bad you will be the first on the list when the upturn begins.

For firms, now is the time to invest in your lawyers. “Soft skills” training in presentation skills, handling awkward clients, networking and business development can be undertaken in quieter periods.

These new-found skills can be put to good use in seminars for clients, business networking events and generally when promoting the firm. Cross-selling opportunities should also be focused on, especially those which often go unrecognised when we are all busy and have no time for introductions.

Senior colleagues will remind you that there have been hard times in the past and we always pull through. Others will be clinging onto the traditional belief that being a lawyer is a guaranteed job for life. Unfortunately there is no longer such a thing (the exception to the rule being Posh Spice,s hairdresser).

More and more solicitors are turning their backs on the profession to re-train in trade skills where there is a particular shortage. Others might fancy a quieter life on the continent (or further afield) welcoming guests to their taverna or guesthouse.

It all sounds good, but don’t jump out too soon. For those who sit it out, the downturn can present a number of opportunities……

This article first appeared at SimplyLawJobs on 29 October 2008

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