There is probably one lawyer joke that was born every minute in comedy clubs and internet before the recession hit us. But interestingly post 2008, the number of lawyer jokes circling the system has gone down quite a but.
This small anecdote shows two things. On one side is the huge size and revenue of legal business, particularly in USA, which is by far the biggest legal market in the world. At one point from 1978 to 2004, the legal business in USA grew more than 4 times the size of economy and it used to represent 1.8% of total consumer spending. But the other side of the story shows that just like every other business, recession was not particularly kind of legal business. The revenue of the top 100 law firms went down 4.3% in 2008 and only went up by .3% in 2009.
That of course is not the lesson. The lesson to learn here is which law firms are particularly doing well even during and post recession and why.
Lesson 1: Go global before everyone else
Baker & McKenzie, the biggest law firm in the world in terms of revenue, has opened its office in Latin America in the 195os and in mainland China in 1993
Lesson 2: Specialize
Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz is the most profitable law firm in the world by focusing on only one kind of business – merger and acquisition
Lesson 3: Keep your cost down
DLA Piper is another law firm that serves clients in 19 countries but despite being a prestigious american firm they operate from cheaper cities to keep the overhead cost down.