The biggest challenge for small and boutique firms during a very rocky 20009 has been to "hold their nerve", according to John Kain, director of Adelaide firm Kain Corporate + Commercial.
According to Kain, the key to pulling through 2009 has been staying focused, keeping a long-term perspective, and making decisions accordingly.
"I shudder when I hear of firms panicking when faced with a short-term drop off in work and responding by accepting work which is outside their core skill-set, or taking on clients who do not fit their preferred client profile, or, worse, letting go of quality team members."
Meanwhile in-house lawyers have been put to the test this year, having been faced with unique legal challenges with significantly fewer resources to manage them. Australian Corporate Lawyers Association CEO Peter Turner explained: "[There has been] pressure to do more with less, to significantly reduce costs, to get it right the first time, to cut corners and work harder, longer and more efficiently."
Mallesons Stephen Jaques' chief executive partner, Robert Milliner, explained that this added pressure on in-house counsel had flow-on effects for top-tier law firms throughout the year. "Work volumes were affected across most practice areas and with less work on offer the marketplace was even more competitive, with client expectations heightened around price and value," he explained.
In the final issue of Lawyers Weekly for 2009, hitting desks on Friday 11 December, legal leaders from across the spectrum of the legal profession speak candidly about what have been the greatest challenges during 2009, and what's on the horizon for 2010. See Lawyers Weekly for the full story.
- Zoe Lyon