Economists are increasingly gravitating to the concept of a “K-shaped” recovery following the steep plunge of the early days of the coronavirus crisis. With a slight tweak, that “K” may well serve as a useful depiction of law firm profitability in 2020: just add a horizontal third line at the center.

Nearly six months after the arrival of COVID-19 in the United States forced the shutdown of wide parts of the economy, it’s become apparent that the law firm world, as a whole, has managed to avoid the worst of the pain. Firms’ operations have largely been unhindered by the abrupt shift toward remote work, and while demand has dipped, it hasn’t cratered. In a growing number of firms, austerity measures have proved to be temporary, as staff, associates and partners alike are seeing compensation restored.