It’s been a heady 21st century for law firms. The tech bust and the recession were just opportunities. M&A partners learned to restructure; lawyers with a freshman chemistry course under their belts became IP litigators. The mother lode of private equity capital finally came in off the sidelines. Litigation adopted OPEC-speak: Was the pipeline full for the next six, 18 or 24 months? To paraphrase the cartoon caption of the day: Teach a firm to fish, and it will eat for a day. Teach a firm to sue, and it will eat forever. Or at least for this decade.

A careful review of our 21st-century numbers allows us to draw some conclusions about where we’ve been and where we’re headed. Here are four to consider:

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