With only a few hours left in 2008 many around the world are looking for hope in 2009. For many, 2008 will be the year of financial decimation, a year like none other. The last recorded time of such financial collapse was the Great Depression. It is no wonder why some economists have referred to 2008 as the “mini-depression of 2008”. When the first signs of financial collapse began showing signs in 2006, organizations kept pushing forward – at full throttle. That full throttle pushed the global economy into a huge downward spiral. Even after the global injection of over $3 trillion, world economies are trying to find direction. Recently the Wall Street Journal published their 10 predictions for 2009, any single of which alters the world as we know it. More than three occurring will completely change the economic world order.
It continues to baffle me why, with all of the indicators, we continue down our historical path. Failure to act on indictors was something I wrote on before. Recently I found this to be the sentiment of others. While being delayed at Chicago’s O’Hare airport I met an energy mogul from Toronto, named Mike. Through our lengthy conversation on renewable energy he expressed how the majority in the market fail to internalize that “dino-fuel” is coming to an end. However, in his quest to build renewable energy resources he also spends considerable time studying human behavior. He shared that the human brain uses emotions to solve problems. That is why we are where we are today; we didn’t fix the problems, we stuck our heads’ in the sand and pretended they didn’t exist.
I sense that 2009 will be the year of ‘reorganization’. It will be a time in which economic markets shed more deadwood. It will be a time of more organizations crashing and little hope for the financial markets. It will be a year of ‘succession’, a rebirth, a time for antiquated companies’ thinking to die away to make room for new and innovative companies’ thinking to germinate and grow. Results of a literature review, prove this idea isn’t all that far fetched. There are countless articles on the next generation, who will survive, and the new economic order.
In cross posts on the Legal Profession Blog and the Empirical Legal Studies Blog, Indiana University Law Professor, William Henderson, predicts that more big law firms will collapse in 2009. Henderson says “a large proportion of big firms are in “one hell of a vise” because of the potential for weak collections and continuing costs after layoffs. Firms could be stuck with “vast expanses of Class A office space” after layoffs while making severance payments to its former lawyers”. A November survey of the nation's 700 top law firms by Altman Weil found that most were collecting fees at the same rate as last year. But the legal consulting firm did note “some softening” in balance sheets, particularly in firms with more than 250 lawyers and in major legal markets. It sounds that that these large firms are ‘fr’agile. This ‘fr’agile position, probably a result of being imbued with historical ways of thinking/operating, leads to being ‘fr’angible. As Henderson contends that the destruction of these firms results in pieces, of once revered practices, go ‘flying off’.
Lindsay Fortado of Bloomberg reports Thacher Proffitt & Wood, a 160-year- old New York-based law firm, will close down after the subprime crisis slashed demand for its structured-finance practice and more than half of its attorneys left for a competitor. Delving deeper into the cause of the demise reveals the old school mentality; emotional reaction instead of practical action.
However there are some firms that are not only surviving but thriving and growing. These firms have broken out of their bondage of emotional reaction, making them ‘agile’ in today’s economic space. Susan Berson of ABA Journal reports that attorney Nancy Jochens who specializes in construction law sees expansion in her Kansas City, MO practice. Her practice is prospering by way of practical action, by being involved in international ventures. For 2009, her firm is planning a Dubai office. Why? Because, Dubai is in a construction boom! “You have to be willing to go where the opportunities are, even if it means learning something new, like the language and customs,” Jochens says.
The succession of 2009 and beyond will be characterized by a single word, ‘agile’. Each organization must choose their pre-fix; some will choose ‘Fr’ and as such die a painful death. While others will forgo a pre-fix, and be a true reflection of ‘agile’, by way of their survival beyond 2009!
Survival comes down to losing your ‘Fr’ prefix and making 10 core changes. (http://www.abajournal.com/magazine/recession-proof_your_practice)