Signs of an imminent recession aren’t deterring law firm leaders from a “cautiously optimistic” financial outlook this year, as they plan for short-term economic headwinds to be supplanted by rising demand for litigation, restructuring and white-collar defense practices.

Firm leaders contacted for this story say the downturn in transactional activity has been principally concentrated in a narrow area of deal-making practices, that is, those with a focus on emerging companies, tech-sector clients or large-cap bet-the-company-type transactions. Meanwhile, middle-market deals have continued to move forward, at least at the outset of 2023, and the higher fees generated by complex financing vehicles can offset some of the downturn.