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Tougher Times Ahead For Kiwi Law Firms

Tougher Times Ahead For Kiwi Law Firms
A tight market may herald a new-look for kiwi law firms
LawFuel - The Law Jobs and News Wire - LawFuel, the legal jobs site has spoken with a number of recruiters and law firm heads who indicate that there is considerable belt-tightening occurring. A significant number of legal executives involved in conveyancing have already been released from mainly smaller law practices while larger firms like DLA Phillips Fox have also made some qualified lawyers redundant.

Legal consultant Ashley Balls says firms are very concerned about the work levels. “I have yet to come across a firm who are not genuinely concerned – the trouble is most haven’t a clue on how to react. That is a little harsh but fairly close to the truth. Managing WIP & Debtors has become problem for many with even good clients holding out for 60+ days before payment.”

Further, with a tight legal market in London, many kiwi lawyers seeking overseas work are going to find a hard time while those already there and looking to return home are likely to find increasing difficulty in locating the type of work they want.

And in the US, where there have been widespread ‘releases’ of associates and others, major law firms have begun capping associate salaries, which have escalated hugely during the recent boom years.

A major difference in the current slowdown for law firms is that previously law firms were able to offset the dropoff in corporate capital raising and M&A activity with insolvency and litigation work. But firms are now cutting debt and reducing expenditure, which is having a significant effect on law firm revenues.

Ron Pol of TeamFactors , an experienced professional services practice consultant with with extensive law firm knowledge, says although we are now just starting to see a slight upturn in insolvency work it is not enough.
“Our predictions that litigation and insolvency work wouldn’t fully offset the downturn have already been reflected in unprecedented numbers of redundancies in litigation departments across the world; a process that seems to be continuing.”

“Many law firms have begun to cut costs and retrench staff to preserve core profitability,” he says.

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