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How to Navigate 2023 with Cautious Optimism

Between the current state of the economy, technological and legislative shifts over the past year, the legal sector is rife with speculation about how 2023 will pan out. In this blog, we will explore some hot topics that sector experts have their eye on, the lessons we learnt from previous economic downturns and what legal practitioners can do to come out strong in any uncertain time.

The Elephant in the Room: The 2023 Economy

Global economy in 2022 was undoubtedly volatile and experts concur that we will not be out of the woods this year. The Russia-Ukraine war and interest rates practically at a vertical incline created a perfect storm for the cost of living crisis – the legal sector is not immune to this. In fact, an article published by Financial News London in October cited a survey of 200 law firm partners stating that 44% faced client pressure to reduce fees, while 46% lost clients to cheaper competitors.

We cannot deny that we are in the thick of it.

However, key takeaways from the World Economic Forum’s 2023 Davos Conference have given us a silver lining. While there are still emerging risks, the global economy is marginally better than originally projected. ‘Cautious optimism’ is the way forward.

What can law firms do to navigate through this economic climate with ‘cautious optimism’?

Based on our experience over the past few recessions, here are a few things to help weather the storm in 2023:

  • Cash is king in any recession and debt is becoming more expensive. Build a cash war chest rather than refinancing on debt.
  • Deal with under-performers sooner rather than later to limit cost and volume of potential redundancies.
  • Resources are always finite – use them well. Take the time to have a frank and honest look at your aims and objectives. Narrow those goals down and strive to excel in them rather than a scattergun approach that reaps sup-par / mediocre results.

How Senior Associates and Partners Stay in Control of Their Professional Interests?

Practitioners who are ahead of their game never lose sight of two things – the interests of their clients, and their personal fulfilment. To lose sight of either of these factors can impact the control of one’s professional trajectory.

While the present economy may influence one to be more conservative when making decisions about their career, it is also transient in the grand scheme of things. Tides raise all ships, and good lawyers always align themselves towards an advantageous position to benefit their clients and personal fulfilment. 

Things that good lawyers can do to maintain their competitive advantage include:

  • Reinforcing existing relationships with clients and having candid conversations about their attitude towards the future. The services that they need now and a few years into the future may be different. Furthermore, portable clients provide lawyers more leverage in the event of a lateral move.
  • Questioning circumstances and the direction of travel at their current firm. If you are not certain that they align with your values and vision, it is important to address your concerns.
  • Catalogue their client success track record. Not only will it continually demonstrate capabilities at the current firm, it provides potential future prospects the evidence of an availability to win and nurture clients, rather than simply inheriting them.

Self-Assessments Help Good Lawyers Stay on Track

Given the present climate, it is not uncommon for people to put up with things hoping to ‘weather the storm’ if things seem unaligned with values. However, this approach creates the risk of deteriorating client relationships, less than stellar personal performance, and damaging mid- to long-term earning potential.

To help with this, we developed a free-to-use tool to help you consider key aspects as you decide to speak to someone about your prospects. The short questionnaire will provide you with observations on your present professional path and guidance on what you can do to improve your situation.

Try the self-assessment tool here.

The Team is Ever Ready to Help

With more than 18 years experience in lateral moves, executive search, mergers and acquisitions, Ortus Group is primed to help legal professionals effectively assess their direction of travel and if beneficial, make their next move.

Reach out to a member of our team for a complimentary and confidential conversation on how to keep your career on track via email at or call 0330 100 5420.

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