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Never has it been harder, or more crucial, to break out of the pack. Still smarting from the recession and facing fierce global competition, firms had been hoping for stability in 2011. What they got—as shown by the results of The American Lawyer’s ninth annual survey of managing partners, chairs, and other Am Law 200 firm leaders—was slow-paying clients, struggling transactional practices, and, if they’re lucky, the prospect of modest billing increases in the months ahead. Nearly a third of respondents expect their once-bustling corporate practices to be their most challenged practice group next year, a few said they anticipate a significant increase in deal flow in 2012. Many firms are also seeing collection times lengthen. One firm leader told us that 90 days is the new 30. For this we all know where to point the finger. The economy seemed to improve one day and deteriorate the next, creating uncertainty—and a host of challenges.

Previous Law Firm Leaders coverage :: 2010 Building a Breakout Firm Firms are stepping up their efforts to differentiate themselves from the competition, our annual law firm leaders survey shows. Plus: Downloadable poster of key survey results Man of the World How David Morley transformed Allen & Overcautious into a global player. The Morley Effect (includes interactive chart) Blood, Sweat, and Gears Ending the Old Boys Network A Fresh Start After a few tough years, O’Melveny has a new chair and a revamped strategy. Keeping up with the Joneses (includes interactive chart) Rightsizing O’Melveny (includes interactive chart)

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