Historically strong revenue growth on the strength of a pickup in demand and solid rate increases, together with moderate expense growth through the first half of 2018, have the law firm industry well ahead of last year’s first-half performance. However, behind the industry averages, we continued to see dispersion across the industry, with the market favoring the largest and smallest firms during the first half. Looking ahead, the revenue outlook for the rest of 2018 is very positive, with a solid buildup in inventory heading into the third quarter. The industry will need this, given the upward pressure on expenses we expect to see in the second half of the year as firms absorb the recently announced salary increases.
These results are based on a sample of 186 firms (77 Am Law 100 firms, 53 Second Hundred firms and 56 niche/boutique firms). Thirty-six of these firms fit our definition of either “international” (between 10 and 25 percent of lawyers based outside the United States), or “global” (at least 25 percent of lawyers based outside the United States). Firms with less than 10 percent of lawyers based outside the U.S. are classified as either “national” (less than 50 percent of total lawyers based in headquarters office), or “regional” (greater than 50 percent of lawyers based in headquarters office).
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