It does not take a legal market expert to know that the landscape of major law firms is changing like that of the polar ice caps. Since 2000 at least nine firms have collapsed from their perches amidst the Am-Flawed 100 directly into oblivion, namely: Dewey & LeBoeuf, Howrey, Heller Ehrman, Thacher Proffitt, McKee Nelson, Wolf Block, Dreier, Thelen, and Brobeck — or on average one firm every one and a half years.
The obvious lesson to be taken from this fact is that mere presence on the Am-Flawed list has zero correlation to firm health or stability. Further, we all recognize that the economic environment is becoming only increasingly competitive and the pack of leading mega-firms increasingly small. Thus it is fair to predict that by year 2020 five more firms currently on the Am-Flawed 100 list will collapse. So a basic question for all lawyers aboard Am-Flawed 100 firms today should be: “Is my firm among those five doomed to oblivion by 2020?
Here are thirty-seven signs that your current Am-Flawed 100 ship may be soon destined for the graveyard beneath the ocean of BigLaw:
1) Your firm has just completed a mega-merger or is seriously contemplating one;.
2) Your firm feels like it is growing too fast;
3) Your firm is losing quality attorneys at a noticeable rate;
4) Your firm feels stagnant;
5) Your firm is not attracting new quality clients at a noticable rate;
6) Your firm is losing quality clients at a noticeable rate;
7) The equity-holding ranks of your firm’s partnership is diminshing in size;
8) Your firm’s chairman is widely unpopular or distrusted;
9) Members of your firm holding leadership positions are generally regarded by the rank and file as having toxic or abusive personalities;
10) Your firm is not investing in recruiting;
11) Your firm is not investing in marketing;
12) Current or recent members of your firm’s top leadership are jumping ship;
13) The most productive members of your firm are jumping ship;
14) Your firm is not hiring talented associates to support productive partners;
15) Your firm’s leadership tolerates chronically abusive personalities;
16) Your firm has difficulty attracting quality laterals from other firms;
17) Your firm has difficulty attracting star attorneys from the public sector;
18) Your firm is generally regarded as cheap;
19) Your firm is generally regarded as lavish;
20) Members of your firm leadership should be indicted for financial improprieties;
21) Your firm tolerates partners engaging in harassment – sexual or otherwise;
22) Your firm’s culture is inordinately dysfunctional;
23) Your firm’s culture is inordinately uncollegial;
24) Your firm has no definable culture whatsoever;
25) Your firm’s culture has been consumed or eradicated by a dominant merger partner;
26) You have serious concerns regarding the direction in which your firm seems to be headed strategically;
27) You have serious concerns regarding the direction in which your firm seems to be headed culturally;
28) You don’t like or respect your firm’s managing partners;
29) You don’t like or respect an inordinate number of your firm’s most powerful partners;
30) You don’t trust or feel like you can confide in an inordinate number of your firm’s rank-and-file partners;
31) You are receiving an inordinate number of phone calls from headhunters;
32) Your firm is having noticeeable cash-flow issues;
33) Your firm is having credit or debt issues;
34) Your firm is engaging in inordinate compensation cuts;
35) Your firm is engaging in inordinate associate cuts;
36) Your firm is engaging in inordinate staffing cuts;
37) Your firm is regularly engaging in overstaffing, overbilling or other disturbing client improprieties.
Bottom line is this: It’s generally advisable to jump while your ship is still afloat. If you have a nagging sense that your firm is not healthy financially or culturally, consult a market expert at Hanover Legal soon. We warmly welcome all your inquiries.