Ann speaks not just from experience, but from hard data. For the 15+ years I've know her, she's been tracking the Amlaw 200 (and more), scouring data to look for trends and red flags that indicate trouble or success. Here are some of my favorites: (uh.. which is all of them).
"Twenty ways to know your firm’s in serious trouble …
1. You dread coming to work.
2. Partners’ doors are closed all the time.
3. The coffee’s gotten worse.
4. Firm revenue and headcount have shrunk, and net operating income has fallen even more.
5. Profits per equity partner are shrinking or flat, kept aloft by partner de-equitizations.
6. The only thing growing at your firm is the number of non-equity partners.
7. Women at your firm are third-class citizens, not firm leaders or full equity partners.
8. You don’t recruit government officials without business because you can’t afford to invest in them.
9. There’s a big donut hole in your firm’s partnership, where future leaders used to be.
10. All the firm’s largest client relationships are controlled (“tattooed”) by the firm’s oldest partners.
11. Clients are viewed primarily as revenue sources, not objects of real affection and service.
12. Partners won't delegate work to other lawyers until they make their own production numbers.
13. Equity partner compensation is decided by a few partners, black-box style.
14. Your firm has downsized marketing and eliminated the CMO position.
15. You’re still using MS Office 2003.
16. You haven’t had a real firm retreat in years.
17. Your firm has recently been sued for malpractice, discrimination and/or sexual harassment.
18. Clients have started to ask you about the firm’s health.
19. You’re open to a combination, but “worthy” firms’ leaders won’t take a meet and greet.
20. You’ve finally started to say the M-word, assuring reporters your firm is not interested in a merger."