Did you catch the June 5 New York Times article "A Study in Why Major Law Firms are Shrinking"? The article quotes a White & Case lawyer:
"Market forces have replaced 'the social contract,' a top partner there said: 'camaraderie is 'not terribly strong,' because 'people are very scared.' "
. . . "The loyalty of the institution to its people, and vice versa, isn’t really there anymore — it’s a different animal from what a lot of us were used to. It’s much more of a business now and less of a true partnership. The problem is we’re supposed to all be in this together. But at some point, you stop and think: ‘Well, maybe we’re not.’ ”
This article nails directly many of the points I'll be addressing in my upcoming book, The Integration Imperative: Erasing Marketing and Business Development Silos -- Once and for All -- in Professional Service Firms.
One thing is clear: Law firms like this, and firms in other professional sectors, allowed the balance between their internal and external focus to become terribly skewed. In the quotations from the anonymous partner above, there's not one mention of clients and their needs.
What happens when a professional firm becomes too inwardly focused? You guessed it -- it gets "surprised" by the marketplace. I'll wager that part of their myopia stems from their internal silos, which kept them from connecting their marketing and selling functions to real client value.
My take: there's nothing wrong with a firm refocusing itself toward astute business goals. These and all professionals can indeed have fun again, and hopefully next time the clients will be a bigger part of the picture.