Well, it is nearly over and few in the profession will mourn the passing of 2016. Not since the banking crisis of 2008/09 have 12 months so drastically recast the environment in which law firms ply their trade, most strikingly, of course, in June’s vote for Britain to quit the EU and November’s election of Donald Trump as the 45th US president.
It would be an understatement to say the majority of City lawyers were hoping both votes would go the other way. Now the profession is facing a 2017 as unpredictable and unnerving as 2009 seemed in the aftermath of Lehman’s collapse. That year heralded an unprecedented wave of job cuts and recast the industry. But despite comparable uncertainty, 2017 does not yet look as threatening. Firms remain in their leaner New Normal form and after a tumbleweed prelude to the Brexit vote and a quiet summer, a wave of deal-making has powered many firms as business gets on with investments put on hold.