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|Thriving Law Practices in a Weak Economy|
|Written by Norton Gappy|
The U.S. economy has been and is expected to continue experiencing weakness in many areas, such as housing, manufacturing, financial services, and the U.S. dollar. Tighter credit, slipping commercial sales, and rising commodity prices are hitting individuals and small businesses right where is hurts, in their wallets.
Last year the U.S. economy hit hedge funds and big banks. This year we are seeing small businesses and individuals battered by the sub-prime mortgage markets and financial investment weakness.
When the U.S. economy struggles, many legal practices also struggle as their clients are taking longer to pay legal service fees. This in turn causes accounts receivables to increase and bleeds cash flow. In response, law firms react by requiring associates to increase billable hours and impose new client origination quotas on law firm partners.
While some law firms are experiencing a shrinking client base and a receivables bubble, certain niche law practices are flourishing in this economy. One such area of law is bankruptcy.
It’s not clear which market sector accounts for the spiked increase in bankruptcy filings, but it is presumed that most of the companies closing their doors are builders and those tied to the housing markets. Most bankruptcy law practices usually provide additional ancillary services such as: facilitating residential mortgage foreclosures, filing bankruptcy actions due to fire losses, drug forfeiture actions, tax sales, condemnation proceedings, land contract forfeitures, and actions to quiet title. Bankruptcy law clients usually include: mortgage bankers, local banks, credit unions, mortgage services, regional property owners, investor groups, and individual entrepreneurs.
There is also a direct relationship to increased divorce filings & criminal prosecutions when the economy struggles.According to the American Bankruptcy Institute, the Annual Business and Non-business Filings by State (2007) are as follows:
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