The 2013 Georgetown Law State of the Legal Market opens with this happy thought:
As we enter 2013, the legal market continues in the fifth year of an unprecedented economic downturn that began in the third quarter of 2008. At this point, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the market for legal services in the United States and throughout the world has changed in fundamental ways and that, even as we work our way out of the economic doldrums, the practice of law going forward is likely to be starkly different than in the pre-2008 period.
But have no fear, Mr. Sunshine is here to get you pointed in the right direction.
First, forget about a recovery. There isn’t going to be one. Let me repeat that. There is not going to be a recovery in the legal market. What you see is what you get.
It’s not about waiting out the downturn. It’s about dealing with the new reality. Lawyers have to figure out how to scrap out a living in today’s market. Waiting for a ship to come back in might me a strategy, but it’s not a good one.
Second, get the right attitude. For Mississippi plaintiff lawyers, the downturn started years before 2008. The plaintiff lawyers who are happiest today are the ones who said something like: “it’s a new day. I’m not going to make as much money as I used to. But that’s ok. I can make a living and that’s good enough for me.” That’s the attitude a lawyer needs in today’s environment.
Third, take advantage of the positives of today’s market. If you don’t have as much work as you did ten years ago, don’t spend as much time at work. You will probably make yourself miserable if you spend 10 hours a day at the office everyday when you only have five hours a day of work to do.
There are benefits of not having as much work–you don’t have to spend as much time at work for one. But it’s only a benefit if you take advantage of it. Enjoy your life outside the office and work time will be more bearable even if it’s not as fun as it was back in the day.