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THE DAYS HAVE GOTTEN LONGER - By now, saying law firms are going to have a hard time recreating 2020′s profit margins in 2021 is like saying clients would like to spend less on outside counsel—it’s absolutely true but it’s not exactly news. As many industry observers have noted, austerity measures like staff cuts and travel reductions, which helped bolster PEP for many firms last year, are not really repeatable. But a tidbit in this story from Law.com’s Brenda Sapino Jeffreys on the Am Law 100 stuck out as being particularly interesting because there hasn’t been nearly as much discussion about it. Paula Alvary, a principal at consultant Hoffman Alvary in Newton, Massachusetts, observed that, in addition to decent demand and reduced overhead, firms also benefitted last year from the fact that lawyers working remotely in a pandemic environment didn’t take as much vacation or spend time traveling for work. “All of these things translated into many lawyers simply working a little bit more every week—and that had a huge impact on earnings,” Alvary said. That, of course, raises the question: as attorneys and staff battle burnout and fatigue this year, some firms begin bringing people back to the office and travel starts to resume, will that level of productivity prove to be just another one hit wonder of 2020?

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