It is with personal sadness that I post this news. In September, one of Canada’s most respected law firms will close its doors forever according to a story by lawyer/journalist Jim Middlemiss in today’s Financial Post: “Lawyer exodus shutters Desjardins”.

Jim starts his story:

An era will end for the 100-lawyer law firm Desjardins Ducharme LLP in September. The once-esteemed law firm will close after more than 50 years in business.

For those unfamiliar with Desjardins Ducharme, Kip Cobbett’s comment in the story sums it up:

Kip Cobbett, [Managing Partner and COO of] Stikeman Elliott LLP in Montreal, said it is "very sad" to see Desjardins’ demise. "It was a wonderful firm. It will certainly change the landscape."

The inevitable autopsy will point to a plethora of possible causes.  In my view the imperative for firm leaders who read this is not an analysis of Desjardins Ducharme in particular but rather the realization that complacency, even in the blue chip firms, can be lethal.

Punchline:  The relentless tsunami of change in the legal market place will not spare a firm unable to maneuver out of its path – no matter that firm’s historic financial success, no matter that firm’s pedigree, no matter that firm’s history, no matter that firm’s exemplary reputation.  In my view the harsh lesson here is simple:
manage or prepare to perish!