One big lesson that the downturn has taught me is the importance of being nimble on your feet, of reacting quickly to changed circumstances. As everyone started to realise the true depth of the trouble we were all in, we quickly evaluated our options and decided that we needed to take bold steps rather than retreat.
We reorganised our resources while simultaneously concentrating on building areas where we saw long-term potential. For example, it was clear that capital markets work was going to decline, so we helped lawyers in this practice area re-tool and get into growth areas like business debt and M and A.
Simultaneously, we strengthened our litigation team, and worked on building teams to address emerging areas such as competition law, and also took the opportunity to assist government bodies such as the Planning Commission.
All of these strategies helped us retain talent, our greatest asset, without sacrificing productivity. Another lesson I learnt was to not lose sight of fundamentals. At one point, the firm’s rate of collection on outstanding bills started to drop alarmingly. We shortened our billing cycle and made minor software changes to ensure that billing is completed on time. Our rate of collection went up, and the increased efficiency gave us an edge as economic conditions improved.
The downturn also brought home the importance of building relationships based on trust. We decided to stick with long-standing clients who were struggling, even if it sometimes cost us other, more lucrative work. This decision was validated, because the moment their businesses started to recover, these clients were more than happy to send new work our way.
As a firm, Luthra and Luthra has always prided itself on accurately predicting change and being able to turn on a dime, abilities that have allowed us to emerge a stronger organisation.
— Rajiv Luthra, 51, is the Founder and Managing Partner, Luthra and Luthra Law Offices