Law firms beat a retreat

By Peter Kiefer | December 18, 2008 04:20PM

From the December issue: When it comes to bucking the trends of an economic downturn, lawyers have historically shown an uncanny knack for self-preservation. Now, with bankruptcies on the rise and litigation expected to spike, it would seem that the legal services industry is again well positioned to survive, or even benefit, from the downturn. But mercy is in short supply these days, and no law firm — not even some of the country’s most august — seems to be escaping unscathed. Over the past few months, the 118-year-old firm Heller Ehrman and the 84-year-old firm Thelen Reid dissolved. Both were based in San Francisco, but had substantial presences in Manhattan, with offices at 7 Times Square and at 875 Third Avenue, respectively. For other law firms, the list of unsettling signs appears to be growing.

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