IP, IT and life sciences: Ringing in the changes
There are no easy answers as to what 2009-10 will hold for IT lawyers. What is certain is that recessions always feel worse than the numbers suggest. The last two years of recession in the UK - 1980 and 1990-91 - saw gross domestic product (GDP) drop by 2% and 1.4% respectively. So, assume no growth for 2008, a recession of -2% pa in 2009 and no growth in 2010 (at the bottom end of Bank of England expectations) and you get to a GDP per worker figure of £49,000 two years from now. Compare that with HM Treasury's October 2007 (pre-downturn) forecast of £54,250, and the difference - of over £5,000 - explains why a 2% GDP contraction over three years will have a major impact.Transpose this thinking to the legal world of revenue per lawyer, add law firms' high cost bases and rapidly changing patterns of client demand in property, finance and high-end corporate, factor in the 45% increase in numbers in the profession over the last 10 years (Law Society statistics show that there were 82,000 solicitors in private practice in 2007 - up from 57,000 in 1997), and you can start to understand why many managing partners are wearing increasingly furrowed brows.
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