This year may have started off strong for the law firm industry, but discussing the first-quarter results in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic feels like writing a history paper. There were a number of positive signs of what this year could have been. We saw a trifecta of strong demand, rate and revenue growth. We also saw modest expense growth—in stark contrast to the first quarter of 2019. However, as we inch toward the mid-point of the second quarter, we know that firms find themselves in a much different environment.
These results are based on a sample of 187 firms (74 Am Law 100 firms, 53 Second Hundred firms and 60 niche/boutique firms). Forty of these firms fit our definition of either international (less than 25% but more than 10% of lawyers based outside the United States) or global (at least 25% of lawyers based outside the United States). Citi Private Bank provides financial services to more than 700 U.S. and U.K. law firms and more than 50,000 individual lawyers. Each quarter, the Law Firm Group confidentially surveys firms in the Am Law 100 and the Second Hundred, along with smaller firms. In addition, we conduct a more detailed annual survey and semiannually produce the Law Firm Leaders Confidence Index. These reports, together with extensive discussions with law firm leaders, provide a comprehensive overview of current financial trends in the industry, as well as forward-looking insight.
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