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With all the talk about how the Am Law 50 are significantly outperforming the rest of the nation’s largest firms, it can be a bit daunting for those at No. 51 and below to find reasons to be hopeful about their place in the market. But don’t let stratification get you down. There is a growing trend in Big Law that impacts the nation’s most profitable firms more acutely than any other segment: volatility.


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Equal parts strategy, fiscal management and psychology, leaders of Am Law 200 firms are increasingly having to manage unpredictable financial returns from one year to the next. Talk about adding stress to the budgeting process.

Volatility can come in a number of forms. At Citi Private Bank Law Firm Group, volatility is measured by a fluctuation from year to year in demand, or billable hours logged by all timekeepers. A firm experiences volatility if it sees a rise in demand one year and a decrease the next, or vice versa.

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Gina Passarella Cipriani

Gina Passarella is editor-in-chief of The American Lawyer. She has covered the business of law for her entire career, first as a reporter and special projects editor with The Legal Intelligencer in Pennsylvania and then as senior editor for business of law in ALM's global newsroom. She took over as editor-in-chief of The American Lawyer in January 2017.

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