Happy new year everyone. Let's start on that positive note, as we all know that the crystal ball covering the year ahead is pretty clouded over at present.

My first newspaper of the year, not too surprisingly, leads with reports of the festivities to see the year in - very successful, by all accounts, though the family and I were disappointed not to see the fireworks spread over Edinburgh's seven hills as in the past - followed by coverage of those who choose to take part in events such as the "loony dook" in the Forth on New Year's Day.

That could serve as a metaphor for the year ahead if most people's expectations are borne out, with a freezing cold dose of economic reality set to follow close behind the new year celebrations. Certainly as news continues to emerge of further decline in the property market, rising personal bankruptcy, failing retail chains and the like, we are not likely to see any quick turnaround in the nation's fortunes.

Yet the striking thing about most people's new year messages, even for 2009, is that they are determined to look for the positives, and if people can hold on to such a mindset even for a month or two, they may find themselves on more of an upward than a downward curve.

For lawyers, the focal point is that clients in general are probably as much if not more in need of professional advice than ever, even if it is less likely to relate to buying and selling houses for a while yet. It will take more effort to market services, and average fees per transaction may not be large, but those who manage to tap into a need of this sort should find themselves busy enough to stave off the recession.

Remember the message of the High Street Conference, with which we led the December issue of the Journal! And ending where we began, best wishes for a successful 2009.