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Even before the economic tsunami swept across the world’s markets, inundating clients and practice areas alike, a variety of storm clouds hung over the law firm landscape. Collectively they suggested that serious changes might be in the offing for a market notable for two seemingly immutable traits: relentless success and an ability to dodge, defeat, or co-opt genuine rebellion. Whether the tsunami has irrevocably changed the financial markets and the law firms that lubricate them remains to be seen. But the warning clouds remain, and because of their potential significance we devote much of this month’s issue to examining them. We’ve been down this road before. Twenty-five years ago, the magazine was ablaze with the idea of professional service convergence, the ultimate high-end big box shop. Goldman, Skadden anyone? Evidently not. Ten years ago, we were sagely noting the advent of the multidisciplinary practice. Then we watched, with appropriate amazement, as Kenneth Lay and David Duncan put an end to those one-stop-shop fantasies. This time we think it’s different (we always do!) largely because of the confluence of four factors that have come on the scene. These are the potential agents of change:

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