An Uncertain Economy

It’s spring of 2010 as I write this blurb, and we’ve been in recession for over a year now. From my worm’s eye view in the southwestern GTA, I can see spots of great prosperity and growth – e.g., residential real estate – and I can see areas that seem to be just entering a tough period – commercial real estate.

Homes sales are very strong, largely a pre-HST phenom that will end soon, and then we can assess what the real market is doing. Contractors doing home renos seem to be busy, as are places like Home Depot and kitchen/bath fixture places. I don’t see anything exciting happening in manufacturing or high tech in the Halton area, though every little start-up or closing gets a lot of attention in the media.

We must keep our perspective – when unemployment is 10%, that means 90% are employed (maybe more including those working under the table, and maybe more because some stop looking). Businesses, whether offering services or new widgets can get started and thrive if they give good value and service. Some businesses prosper in a boom, but predictably fall off due to chronically poor management or high prices when things get tough.

Certainly, this area of the world is doing quite well compared to say Windsor or parts of the country dependent on old industry exports – like pulp and paper in Maritimes.

I’ve made some adjustments to my practice, taking on smaller transactions, with retainers and agreed upon narrower scope of involvement – “coaching” a purchaser on a business purchase, instead of doing the deal from start to finish. With a retainer, I almost always reduce my hourly rate to reflect lower credit risk and the type of work done. Yes, even lawyers can’t ignore market realities and keep jacking up their hourly rate and turning modest deals away.

I went solo in 2000 for many reasons, including my determination to exercise common sense and flexibility to better suit my clients, old and new, in this economic climate. I’m glad I can do that.