Compete on price: According to the fourth annual Altman Weil Law Firms in Transition Survey, 92 percent of firm leaders believe the new price competition system is the new paradigm, compared to only 42 percent who thought so in 2009.
Commodity market: Also, 89 percent of firm leaders believe legal work has become commoditized permanently, compared to only 26 percent who believed so in 2009.
Less room at the top: Of the firm leaders, 68 percent believe firms will make fewer equity partners in the future, compared to only 23 percent who thought that in 2009.
Less room at the bottom: Additionally, 55 percent believe firms will hire smaller first-year classes than before the recession, compared to only 11 percent who thought so three years ago.
Optimistic nonetheless: When asked about their overall confidence that firms are prepared to meet the challenges of the current legal marketplace, the majority of firm leaders gave their firm a “7” on a scale of 1-to-10, with a 10 meaning completely confident. That rating was an “8” in 2011, Altman Weil reports in a press release about the survey.
Here’s what firm leaders expect their greatest challenges to be over the next two years: sustaining and growing profitability, attracting and retaining the most talented lawyers, strengthening relationships with clients, and leading change/managing the expectations of partners.
Altman Weil, a consulting company in Newtown Square, Pa., surveyed managing partners and chairmen/chairwomen at 792 U.S. firms with 50 or more lawyers in March and April for the survey. The results are based on completed surveys from 238 firms. At least 16 of the firms surveyed are in Texas.
-- Brenda Sapino Jeffreys