There are dire predictions for parts of the legal profession in 2013. The provision of social welfare law will be hit by the full force of the legal aid cuts from April.
This is also the date from which the economics of civil claims are radically altered through the Jackson reforms. The high street is a stubbornly hard market. And even our largest commercial firms are operating in a challenging environment, chasing not quite enough work.
Yet one does not have to look far for lawyers who are optimistic about the future of the legal profession. They are excited by the opportunities created by globalisation, advances in technology, and by clients who gain information and instruct their lawyers in new ways. They may also work in law firms and legal departments where the workplace discriminations of a generation or more ago are less prevalent.
Which is the right outlook? No doubt 2013 will be a difficult year for many legal practices. But some reassurance can be taken from the imagination being applied to ways to keep legal centres open, to devising fees that challenged clients might be able to live with, and to marketing traditional practices to a public that has learned to distrust big brands. It certainly cannot be said that the profession has been frozen by a poor prognosis.
A happy Christmas break to all our readers. The weekly Gazette will be back on 14 January.