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The economic downturn some have dubbed the Great Recession is forcing many law firms to adapt on the fly — by tinkering with internal structures, for instance, and revising billing practices — in a bid to maintain profit margins. And, according to a report released Tuesday by Pennsylvania-based legal consulting firm Altman Weil, these changes are likely to stick long after the economy recovers.

Altman, which surveyed 787 firms, found that nearly all of the 218 firms that responded — including 95 of the country’s 250 largest firms — now offer their clients alternative fee arrangements. Many firms, the survey found, also plan to continue to streamline their ranks by offering fewer partnerships, keeping summer and first-year associate classes low, and outsourcing or contracting legal work in the near future.

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