Big Law was bullish heading into 2021, optimistic about revenue and profit growth. But several firms still hedged their bets as the year ended, with leaders and legal market observers noting they used significant gains in 2020 to prepay this year’s expenses and cut down on lingering uncertainty posed by COVID-19.

Firms throughout the Am Law 200 posted double-digit gains in profit last year, and many have endorsed permanent changes to try to make those margins stick. Relative to the uncertainty almost exactly one year ago, firms have plenty of reason to be optimistic now.