Anything (clients) can put off they will put off -- including their estate plans
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Providence, RI (PRWEB) September 29, 2009
To the surprise of some, elder law firms have been hit hard by the recession, according to the results of a new survey by ElderLawAnswers, the Web's leading source of consumer and professional information on elder law.
Most surveyed elder law firms (71 percent) have experienced a decline in business due to the economic downturn. Firms have seen an average 25 percent decline in business, although about 20 percent have had to cope with a precipitous 40 to 50 percent drop-off. "Anything (clients) can put off they will put off -- including their estate plans," commented one respondent.
"We're surprised at the results," said ElderLawAnswers president Harry S. Margolis, an elder law attorney in Boston, Mass. "We were assuming that the practice of elder law would be better insulated from recessionary forces because of the necessity of the work these attorneys do."
The survey found that to make up for revenue shortfalls, firms have had to trim bonuses, cut staff, reduce salaries and even delay paying bills. Pruning bonuses has been the most common cost-cutting move among surveyed firms, followed by laying off support staff and reducing salaries.
Firms have also been forced to shift the focus of their practices. More than three-quarters of respondents (77 percent) say that as a result of the slump, they are concentrating more on practice areas that clients are less likely to defer. Topping the list of new areas of focus is estate administration, followed by crisis Medicaid planning and special needs planning.
Firms ranked estate administration, guardianship and conservatorship and crisis Medicaid planning as the best-performing practice areas compared to last year. Advance long-term care planning and fiduciary litigation were ranked lowest.
ElderLawAnswers also asked elder law attorneys how long they think it will take for the economy to rebound. Twenty-seven percent predict one year, 32 percent think it will take two years, 21 percent say it will be three years, 5 percent say four years and 8 percent expect to wait more than four years. An optimistic 5 percent say we'll be out of the woods in six months.
Finally, most of those surveyed believe that even after the economy recovers, the practice of elder law will never be the same, due both to the recession and to other changes in the market for legal services, such as the rise of the Internet. In an open-ended answer section, respondents explained how they believe the practice of elder law will be altered in the years ahead.
Detailed survey results will be published September 28, 2009, in the October 2009 issue of ElderLawAnswers Monthly, with a circulation of 7,500 elder law professionals.
ElderLawAnswers (ELA), found at http://www.elderlawanswers.com, is the leading provider of Web-based practice development tools for [elder law attorneys] on the Internet. ELA employs the latest Web 2.0 applications to provide its members with customizable content such as e-newsletters, blogs, podcasts and consumer articles to increase members' Web presence and position them as the elder law experts in their communities.
In addition to providing support to elder law attorneys, http://www.elderlawanswers.com provides consumers with clear information on legal issues facing older Americans. Consumers may find qualified elder law attorneys searchable by state or telephone area code. The site offers primers on key topics including Medicaid, Medicare, estate planning, and long-term care planning, as well as useful calculators and checklists.