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Editor's NoteWelcome to the 19th installment of PaLaw: Annual Report on the Legal Profession. In these pages, we aim to provide a detailed view of various aspects of the legal profession in Pennsylvania, covering both the public and private sectors, reviewing the shape of things over the past year and what the coming year might hold.
2012-11-27 12:00:00 AM
Welcome to the 19th installment of PaLaw: Annual Report on the Legal Profession. In these pages, we aim to provide a detailed view of various aspects of the legal profession in Pennsylvania, covering both the public and private sectors, reviewing the shape of things over the past year and what the coming year might hold.
In 2011, we wrote in this space that the legal community appeared to be on its way to recovery. Layoffs and hiring reductions were receding and rate and salary increases were rising. This year wasn't always an easy one for Pennsylvania firms. As reporter Zack Needles writes in his Firm Financials story on page 100, firms saw profits and revenue stabilize in 2011 after growth in those metrics in 2010.
This year's Managing Partners Survey touches on financial metrics into 2012 and it shows growth in profits and revenue became increasingly difficult to achieve. As a result, more firms laid off attorneys in the past year than did so in 2011, and more are looking at layoffs of attorneys at all levels in the coming year. Law firm mergers decreased over the past year and managing partners aren't anticipating that to change in 2013.
Public law firms, on the other hand, have rebounded well after a difficult 2011. After a year in which layoffs beset some of the largest public firms in the state, this year's data shows that most had no loss in attorneys year over year and several were able to add to their staffs.
A look through the 100 Largest Law Firms in Pennsylvania, with Reed Smith occupying the top spot for the third straight year, shows that law firm size is still slowly shrinking. As is noted in the Managing Partners Survey on page 80, the total number of Pennsylvania attorneys among the 100 largest firms in the state has decreased nearly 6 percent since 2007.
Our listing of the public interest firms in the state demonstrates that in the difficult legal climate, budgets are tightening and, as a result, firms are cutting back on attorneys. But the news isn't all bad our breakdowns of female and minority attorney percentages across the state show those numbers are slowly rising compared to our 2011 results.
On a personal note, this was my first time working on this magazine and it was an exciting process. I joined The Legal just as work on last year's PaLaw was being completed, and the opportunity to research the information organized in these pages allowed me to gain greater insight into the inner workings of Pennsylvania's legal profession. There truly is a wealth of knowledge in these pages.
The data in these charts took months to compile, as it represents both a broad and narrow view of the profession, and this publication and its many moving parts couldn't have been delivered in such an informative and clear package without the work of some very dedicated colleagues.
Director of Information Technology Brian Harris compiles the information gathered from a number of sources (including the surveys you so generously fill out for us) to create the charts and graphs you see throughout these pages.
Art Director Karen Leddy carefully lays out all of the charts, graphs and articles to bring the information to you with a clean and clear design. Her improvements over the past couple of years to the design of the magazine allow the data to shine through.
Senior Staff Reporter Gina Passarella brings her expertise to the forefront, not only with her informative analysis of the Managing Partners Survey, but also in helping to shepherd the many different sections of this publication through to the end. Her tireless effort and careful editing eye ensure the information in these pages is not only valuable, but also accurate down to the smallest detail.
As with everything else we do at The Legal, we hope to receive your input on this magazine. It represents a look at where the profession currently stands and we always welcome your ideas for further useful information we can provide in coming years. As the practice of law evolves, so should this publication. We look forward to hearing your insights and suggestions in the coming year.
Ben Seal is the magazines and supplements editor for The Legal Intelligencer.