The COVID-19 recession of 2020 marks the eighth economic downturn since 1969. Six of these eight recessions were V-shaped—the duration of recovery roughly mirrored the duration of decline, each phase lasting about a year.

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In 2008, the global financial crisis broke this four-decade streak. Officially, the Great Recession lasted 19 months, followed by a prolonged, U-shaped recovery in which pre-recession GDP and employment levels remained elusive until 2014. The lengthy post-GFC recovery period structurally reshaped competitive dynamics for legal markets as unprecedented ­levels of budget scrutiny on corporate law departments triggered a perfect storm of economic pressures for Big Law. Buy-side efforts to reimagine the legal supply chain gave rise to widespread insourcing, near-shoring and offshoring, dampening demand for outside counsel while dialing up client expectations for service quality and competitive pricing.

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