The last recession caught a robust and in-demand legal industry unprepared, and the consequences cut deep. Deal flow of all kinds dramatically slowed, with real estate hit first and hardest. Law firms were forced to lay off staff, defer acceptances for associates, and close entire offices. Contrary to traditional wisdom, the pace of litigation, including bankruptcy litigation, did not pick up due to a lack of capital to pursue remedies in court.

Given the drastic consequences last time around, it’s only natural for firms and legal service providers to remain on the lookout for the signs and symptoms of the next recession. However, lasting changes in the way law firms deliver services to their increasingly cost-conscious clients—changes that have been in motion since long before the recession and that will continue regardless of the economic cycle—mean that the next recession will not have nearly as dramatic an effect on the industry.

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