Friday, May 16, 2014
Altman Weil, Law Firms in Transition:
Large majorities of law firm leaders responding to the survey agree that greater price competition, practice efficiency, commoditization of legal work, competition from nontraditional service providers, and non-hourly billing are all permanent changes in the legal landscape. For the most part, these are changes that have been imposed upon them from without – from more demanding clients and more competitive newcomers who are challenging the rules of legal service delivery.
Each year since 2011 when we first asked the question, more than 90% of firm leaders have said they believe there is a permanent market shift requiring greater efficiency in the delivery of legal services.
When asked if growth in lawyer headcount was a requirement for continued success, just 49% of firm leaders said yes, down 6% from 2013. Numbers for net change in 2013 lawyer headcount seem to support this finding for the most part. Median responses from all survey participants showed a 2% increase in non-equity partners, a 1% increase in partner-track associates, and no net change for equity partners, non-partner track associates and other full-time lawyers.
Two-thirds of law firm leaders think the pace of change in the profession is still increasing. Another 30% believe it will remain at its current pace (which is not inconsiderable).
An ongoing drag on firm leaders’ ability to lead change is found in their partners who are often unaware of the ways in which the profession is changing or who simply don’t want to do things differently. Leaders rate their partners overall awareness of and adaptability to change at a median of ‘6’ on a 0 to 10 scale in both of these areas.
(Hat Tip: Wall Street Journal Law Blog.)