The year that was
6 Dec 16
The Journal employment survey reveals a gloomy outlook; how can solicitors meet clients' needs in these times?
Maybe some who move in other circles than mine would disagree, but I have not heard many good things said about 2016. The unmistakable swing against the prevailing liberal (and international) ethos of the post-war decades strikes me as far from healthy, and I do fear for where it will all end.
Presumably taking more of a business perspective, respondents to the Journal's employment survey, the subject of our lead feature, certainly adopted a gloomy outlook. A strikingly sharp turn to negative sentiment, both in relation to the past 12 months and as respects the outlook for the next, is there for all to see.
There is no doubt either that fingers are pointing at the Brexit vote as the chief culprit. While a sizeable percentage either think it will make little difference to their own organisation or don't really know, very few think it will be beneficial, whereas an overall majority think their employer will be “somewhat adversely” or “very adversely” affected.
Interestingly, this sentiment was more pronounced among bigger firms, whose clients may well be more exposed, or more immediately exposed, if a more difficult trading environment, and a slower economy, do indeed result, as still predicted by respected independent forecasters despite the scorn being heaped on them by some who should know better. If the transactions on which those firms substantially depend for revenue become less frequent as a result, it is not difficult to follow their thinking.
At the same time, taking a step back and trying to be as objective as possible, the greater the uncertainty, the greater the need for advice and guidance. More than ever, professional advisers are likely to be called on to step beyond their training and their practice specialisms, to help their clients take strategic decisions that will enable them to take advantage of the reshaped world as it emerges over the next however many years. It is those who are onside with their clients' needs and concerns, and who can proactively, and imaginatively, support and guide them through the fog of uncertainty, who are likely to prosper in the climate in which we now find ourselves.
Coincidentally, this month we also begin an exploration of sector marketing (p 44), which seems to me to sit well with this approach, and which larger firms are certainly now taking seriously.
And on that note I wish all readers a happy and relaxing Christmas holiday break. The new year will be demanding enough!