Growth Is Dead: Now What? has now been out for two months and reviews are beginning to come in. Here are a few:

A high-profile law-firm consultant offers a grim prognosis, and advice, for the upper echelons of the legal profession.

He addresses a range of problems, such as the lack of growth in client demand, a surplus of highly paid partners doing too little and junior lawyers with unrealistic career expectations, cost-cutting globalization, ever-evolving technology that drives fewer to do more, and emboldened clients demanding lower legal fees.  MacEwen writes that lawyers’ natural aversion to failure could lead to trouble when trial-and-error reinvention is the order of the day.

The author’s writing style is straightforward, engaging, and urbane yet informal and never recondite.

From Kirkus Reviews; the whole thing is here.

And, from Amazon customer reviews:

The forces of structural change in the law firm business have been simmering under the surface for many years. It took the recession to show law firms that even lawyers’ jobs could be vulnerable. It took the failure of Dewey & Leboeuf to scare the hell out of them, And now it takes Bruce MacEwen to explain these winds of change in a such a way that all of us in the industry can make sense of them. Bruce lays the whole thing out systematically. He tells us where we went wrong, how we’re digging ourselves deeper, and what we can do to turn things around. That’s a lot for one book, but someone has to do it. And Bruce is definitely the right guy for the job.

In last month’s Harvard Business Review (March 2013), Larry Downes and Paul F. Nunes suggest the first and best defense for market leaders against “big bang disruptions” in their markets is, quite plainly, to make sure they “see [the disruption] coming”. How can market leaders see radical change coming before it’s too late? First, organizations must find their industry’s “truth-tellers”. According to Nunes and Dowes, while truth-tellers are hard to find, and even harder to listen to, they often play crucial roles in helping organizations navigate and survive disruptive market forces. “In every industry there are a handful of these visionaries, whose talents are based on equal parts genius and complete immersion in the industry’s inner workings.” In the post-Lehman global economy, Bruce MacEwen has emerged as the legal industry’s sharpest “truth-teller.” “Growth Is Dead” is a sobering and serious contemplation of the radical “disruptions” facing the legal profession today. If you are a lawyer, work with lawyers, or are pursuing a career in law, add this book to your reading list. MacEwen’s analysis is lucid and frank: law firms must adapt, or perish. Despite the cautionary tone, though, and the seemingly fatalistic title, “Growth is Dead” is decidely optimistic, even hopeful, about the re-imagining and re-tooling of an industry and a profession that the author has deemed worthy, not merely of his careful reporting and thoughtful analysis, but of his earnest and generous stewardship.

A very insightful work on law firms. There is a naked honesty that comes from someone who truly understands that community and is not troubled to tell it like it is. Further, lest it all be a negative, Mr. MacEwen suggests changes that can not only sustain a practice but grow it. Great read!

Required reading for anyone who works in, manages, retains, or consults with law firms. “Growth is Dead” promises a shock of recognition, and an unshakeable realization that, to the extent we are not already thinking about what MacEwen is saying, we have to start. He tackles all the big issues – excess capacity, compensation, clients, value transparency, and more – and delivers a sorely needed jolt of urgency to anyone not yet convinced that the earth has shifted, with tremendous aftershocks. If you are not yet scared, you will be. In taking us to the brink, though, what MacEwen asks us to see is an extraordinary opportunity to invent the future. In this well-crafted, compelling invitation to step into the process of creation, he is surely right.

From a personal standpoint, I would venture that the most common reaction by far has been a long symbolic exhale, as Growth Is Dead has given people permission to talk about our new world in terms we can all at last share: The unspoken can now be spoken, and we can turn our attention to far more useful work, namely the Now What? part.

I invite you to take a look if you haven’t already.

Your humble scribe,

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