Surveys & Special Reports

Law Firms in Transition 2012: An Altman Weil Flash Survey

Altman Weil’s Law Firms in Transition Surveys have chronicled an unprecedented shift in thinking among law firm leaders.  The question is no longer whether to expect permanent changes in the competitive environment—those changes have arrived and are here to stay.  Strong majorities of law firm leaders believe the practice of law will be permanently characterized by pricing pressures, further commoditization of legal work, new forms of competition and thus a need for improved practice efficiency.

Firms have done the urgent things necessary to support profitability in the short term.  Maintaining and growing profitability will be much more difficult going forward and will require addressing key elements of the business model.

As for growth in volume, a return to the previous level of legal matters – if that occurs – will not result in previous levels of billable hours at high billing rates.  The forces of commoditization have taken hold.

Conducted in March and April 2012, the Altman Weil 2012 Law Firms in Transition Survey polled Managing Partners and Chairs at 792 US law firms with 50 or more lawyers.  Completed surveys were received from 238 firms, including 40% of the 250 largest US law firms.

The full survey includes sections on economic performance and billing rates, alternative fee arrangements, firm growth, lawyer and staffing levels, succession planning, client relationships and the future of the profession.

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