September/October 2020

News & Events

Finance in Times of Great Uncertainty

Zachary Bambacht

The last eight months have, in a lot of different ways, been unimaginable. What began as a regional problem halfway around the world turned into a global pandemic that, almost immediately, changed the way we worked and severely impacted our personal and professional daily lives. As a Division, we have put the health and well-being of our members and staff first in making the best decision possible with the best information that is available.

In mid-March we were able to quickly pivot from being an office-based staff, working from home on a limited basis, to working remotely 100 percent on an interim basis. What allowed for a seamless transition was that we had already set up remote resources and tools and our team was already functioning well with remote working. Expanding remote working was an easier transition because we had already practiced it effectively.

As a Division we focus on four functional areas: management, technology, marketing and finance. All these areas have seen dramatic impacts as a result of the world and national events taking place. Finance, in particular, has been dramatically affected. Most, if not all, of us budget annually based on a business cycle. This could be done based on a calendar year or whenever your budget process starts over again. What I can tell from all of my conversations with colleagues, friends in their professions and all of the volunteers that I get to work with is that no one budgeted for a global pandemic, a crisis of this magnitude or dramatic change in economic conditions of the current budget cycle. Imagine, if your budget year begins in January, one month later you are seeing one of the most dramatic shifts in the U.S. and global economy within our lifetimes and beyond. Everything that you planned for and built your budget around has been impacted, and a significant number of the assumptions are no longer valid. We are left with two options: (1) do nothing, which seems entirely negligent, or (2) react to the change, adjust based on the best information you have and be prepared to adjust further as more information becomes available. The feedback I have heard from our members who practice, whether in solo, small, midsize or large firms, is how dramatic the impact has been on their practices.

LP will continue to actively listen to our members and use your concerns, priorities and needs to provide resources and content to play our part in helping our members navigate through this crisis that we are all collectively in together. We had to make some big adjustments last bar year including not having an in-person spring meeting or ABA Annual Meeting. But with those disappointments, we have also learned that we can adapt and succeed, in the interim, by offering each virtually. We will see each other again, in person, in the not too distant future. I recognize the value of that and, like you, look forward to those days ahead. 

Zachary Bambacht

Director

Zachary Bambacht is the director of the ABA Law Practice Division in Chicago. Zachary.Bambacht@americanbar.org

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