The last major U.S. recession struck the legal industry a decade ago, obliterating some law firms and putting a large number of lawyers out of work. Some savvy firms are taking steps now while the economy is still in growth mode to position themselves not only to survive, but also to thrive when the next big economic downturn hits.

Ballard Spahr, for example, is one of many law firms cutting dead weight by reducing their physical offices and rent costs where possible. "We have re-negotiated leases to reduce total square feet occupied and redesigned our workspaces to be more efficient, collaborative and flexible," said Ballard Spahr Chair Mark Stewart. "These changes allow us to adapt our space quickly and cost-effectively to meet the evolving needs of our clients and practitioners."

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