I look at PPP. If it's up or stays the same, I look at revenue to see whether that PPP is based on growth and not cost-cutting.
RPL is, of course, a good indicator of health, but if you plotted all those points on a graph, you don't see much. Yes, you see outliers and both ends, and they tend to be the most elite and most poorly off, respectively. But most firms are clustered near each other. Instead, look for major RPL increases and decreases.
Anyways, this is how I see things. I wouldn't take Dewey as a lesson of how quickly things can go bad. I take it as a lesson in how resilient law firms are. It took a confluence of factors to cause its downfall. It's frankly surprising they lasted as long as they did. It really goes to show that, barring some massive economic calamity, Biglaw is still one of the few professions that offers a very high degree of job security.
If there's people to worry about at Dewey, it's not so much the SAs or junior or midlevel associates. My sources, for example, tell me that the SAs have been fully placed at other firms. The people to worried about are junior and service partners. No firm will take them unless they're package deals with rainmakers. Junior partners at Dewey were making less than senior associates, and that's before capital contributions. Also, I'm really hope senior associates find a landing spot.