News of the new Altman Weil survey. Comment here. Summary of key points:
The fifth annual Altman Weil Law Firms in Transition Survey finds law firm leaders are acutely aware of the changes that the profession is facing.
- They are concerned that the demand for legal work is flat or shrinking in many practices.
- They feel real pricing pressure from clients.
- They recognize the competitive forces of commoditization and the emergence of lower-priced, non-traditional service providers.
- They are coming to grips with the idea that aggressive growth in lawyer headcount may no longer make sense.
- They believe that the pace of change is increasing.
Now in its fifth year, the survey shows the ongoing evolution of thinking on many of these issues including some dramatic shifts in opinion since 2009. However, there is less evidence of tangible changes in how law firms operate.
Headcounts and billing rates are still up on average – albeit far less than they would have been pre-recession. Firms use alternative pricing, but in a limited (and usually non-strategic) way. There is some tightening of partnership admission standards at the top of the pyramid, and broader use of contract lawyers at the base.
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