The Big Law arms race for top attorneys has been a defining feature of the legal industry lately. But many law firm leaders still aren’t totally sure how to reconcile the rising cost of talent with the need to stay profitable.

As a result, analysts say, the cost of legal services could continue rising; there could be a slowdown in hiring or even a loss of talent at firms geared toward the middle market; and both trends could exacerbate an already-growing compensation gap between the most profitable firms at the top of the Am Law 200 and everyone else on the list.