Jan/Feb 2002

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Wind Chill Factor

"It is rather an alteration of perspective, a shifting of our sense of proportion, a vivid realization that we are insignificant and evanescent creatures, existing on sufferance and at the mercy of the first chill wind from the unknown."

– Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The events of recent months have served to amplify our sense of vulnerability. Now, more than ever, we feel wet and exposed to the slightest draft–ill wind or not. The slowing of our world economy, too, forces our hand on the job. Law firms are scrambling to undo the bounty of last year’s hiring orgy. Managing partners are perfecting the art of laying off lawyers without actually … well … laying off lawyers. And suddenly the hottest topic has become (again) how to start and build your solo practice.

In this profession, our historic roots sink very deeply indeed into the belief that, once hired, a lawyer has a job for life. Yet now we’re scrambling to figure out how to flex with the ebbing needs of the marketplace without brutalizing either the person in the next office or our firms’ bottom lines.

This issue of the magazine, I hope, will hold some answers for you. Virginia Grant gives you the scoop on lawyer layoffs, Wendy Leibowitz dives into a proposition for civilizing the termination process, and Kevin Joyce makes some great recommendations on how to hire right. Putting the current trends in perspective, Bob Denney delivers the definitive lowdown on what’s hot and what’s not in the legal profession. Plus, Phyllis Weiss Haserot has some modest but powerful proposals for building a firm that’s nimble enough to respond in any economic climate.

And you’ll certainly want to turn to page 56 to read Ross Fishman’s final "Clips" column. Ross’s witty coverage of marketing innovations has consistently been a top readers’ favorite. Our many thanks for his hot tips and warm humor these past years!

Merrilyn Astin Tarlton

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