Large law firms did a better job collecting their bills last year, helping realization rates rise in 2021 and contributing to one of the strongest years on record in the legal industry.

Whether firms have any room to improve realization this year partly depends on demand during the rest of the pandemic. But there are also variables they can control, analysts and law firm leaders say, such as practice mix, leverage, billing and collection discipline, and client relationship management—all of which could nudge realization upward.