We know it’s coming. While Big Law on average may eke out growth in profitability this year, about half of firms will see a decline. For many, this will be the second down year in a row. For even more firms, momentum in profitability growth has been lost and increases in profit per equity partner (PPP) are not keeping pace with inflation.

When we close the books for 2017, we know what to expect: partners will start to complain bitterly about inequities they perceive in the compensation system. Senior partners may not complain directly about their compensation, but they will argue forcefully that younger partners in their practice areas are being treated unfairly relative to others. They’ll share these views with their younger colleagues thereby fomenting discontent. Partners will threaten, overtly and by innuendo, to leave. Partners will lose perspective, seeing others’ behaviors as evidence of intrinsic malice rather then as reactions to circumstances. Divisions will emerge, factions form, and dysfunction abound.