Economic Meltdown Meant Change For Many Firms
Those steps ranged from the unpopular Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, that was used to shore up the financial industry and bail out General Motors and Chrysler, to the $800 billion stimulus bill.
"We came in, we stabilized the situation, Obama said in a televised interview on ABC's "This Week." He cited 42 months of economic growth, 7.5 million jobs, and a now healthy auto industry.
But to many members of the Connecticut legal industry, the bottom the national economy struck in September 2008 marked a dividing line that will never again be crossed.
"I do think the events of 2008 were in many ways transformational," said Dan Papermaster, the managing partner at Bingham McCutchen's Hartford office, and chair of its Transactional Finance Group. "The pressures that caused firms like Dewey & LeBoufe to collapse caused firms to recognize that effectively the legal industry was in a bubble, and the bubble burst."
Papermaster noted the change in the law firm landscape, as mid-sized firms struggled to keep pace with larger firms that were able to keep hiring top talent and negotiate mergers that allowed them to add practice areas — and provide more complete services for clients. "There is the widening of the gap in terms of revenue growth, between Am Law 100 firms and everyone else," he said.
Papermaster said his firm was fortunate to have a robust financial restructuring practice, which kept it busy when the financial markets were teetering. In recognition of the growing need to provide value for clients, his firm in the past year moved about 100 office support employees to a new Global Services Center in Lexington Kentucky.
The center provides centralized office space for accounting, library, conflict resolution and document preparation workers. "We can manage it better, it's a lower cost center. We operate our business in some of the most expensive sits in the world and it didn't make a lot of sense to have our back operations in those expensive locations."
The firm considered locations all over the globe, but felt Kentucky was the best location. As with other recent business decisions, the move of those workers was part of the firm's effort to provide value to its clients. "Firms that aren't looking at creative ways to manage their cost issues for their clients will find the future more challenging," he said.•