Law Firm Leaders Survey 2008

The Year Ahead
Looking ahead to 2009, with respect to your law firm, you are: Percentage
Optimistic 38%
Pessimistic 10%
Uncertain 53%
How do you expect the deal flow in 2009 to compare with 2008? Percentage
Increase 29%
Stay flat 39%
Decrease 31%
In which practice area do you expect to see the most revenue growth in 2009? Percentage
Litigation 42%
Bankruptcy/restructuring 35%
Intellectual property 11%
Corporate 7%
Real estate -
Other 5%
In 2009, the percentage of your firm’s work that originates from outside the United States will: Percentage
Increase significantly 4%
Increase moderately 58%
Stay flat 37%
Decrease moderately 1%
Decrease significantly -
By how much do you expect head count at your firm to change in 2009? Percentage
Increase by more than 10 percent 7%
Increase by 5-10 percent 34%
Increase by less than 5 percent 31%
Remain the same 21%
Decrease by less than 5 percent 4%
Decrease by 5-10 percent 2%
Decrease by more than 10 percent -
How will the size of your first-year associate class of 2009 compare with that of the 2008 class? Percentage
It will be larger 11%
It will be the same 46%
It will be smaller 43%
In which practice area do you expect to see the biggest growth in head count during 2009? Percentage
Litigation 51%
Intellectual property 18%
Bankruptcy/ restructuring 15%
Corporate 11%
Real estate -
Other 5%
How much of a problem is associate retention for your firm? Percentage
A major problem 7%
A minor problem 46%
Not a problem 46%
How do you expect the U.S. economy to perform in 2009? Percentage
Grow rapidly 1%
Grow slightly 17%
Flat growth 38%
Decline slightly 32%
Decline sharply 12%
What will you do with billing rates for 2009? Percentage
Increase them by more than 5 percent 35%
Increase them by 5 percent or less 63%
Hold them flat or decrease them 3%
What changes are you currently seeing in client behavior regarding billing? Percentage
More clients are requesting discounts 75%
Clients are paying bills later 65%
Clients are requesting deeper discounts 51%
Other 8%
Multiple responses were allowed.
With respect to profits per partner, in 2009 you expect: Percentage
They will grow by more than 5 percent 23%
They will grow by 5 percent or less. 43%
They will be flat or decrease 35%
In light of forecasts of flat or reduced profits per partner for the Am Law 200, how would you characterize the morale among the partners at your firm? Percentage
Very optimistic 8%
Somewhat optimistic 41%
Neutral 39%
Somewhat pessimistic 13%
Very pessimistic -
As of today, how much debt is your firm carrying? Percentage
None 39%
Less than $5 million 19%
$5 million-$10 million 9%
More than $10 million 33%
How does your firm’s level of debt in 2008 compare with 2007? Percentage
We borrowed more 8%
We borrowed less 17%
It’s about the same 75%
Does your firm plan to increase the capital contribution of the partners over the next year? Percentage
Yes, by less than 5 percent 34%
Yes, by 5-10 percent 12%
Yes, by more than 10 percent 6%
No 49%
Is your firm looking for a merger partner? Percentage
Yes 25%
No 75%
Generally, do you think the nation is headed in the right direction? Percentage
Yes 28%
No 72%
Ten-year Outlook
Over the next ten years, do you think your firm will outsource more of its legal work to lower-cost jurisdictions either offshore or within the U.S.? Percentage
Yes 38%
No 62%
Over the next ten years, do you think your firm will adopt a more varied associate structure? (For example, a lower percentage of partner-track hires, a higher percentage of contract and staff lawyers, etc.) Percentage
Yes 76%
No 24%
Over the next ten years, do you think your firm will reduce the percentage of equity partners and increase the percentage of nonequity partners? Percentage
Yes 68%
No 32%
Some high-profile general counsel have suggested that due to the advent of new technology and increased commoditization of legal services, many, if not most, Am Law 200 firms will have to change their business and billing practices. Do you agree? Percentage
Yes 69%
No 31%
Firm Management
Do you spend more than half of your time on firm management? Percentage
Yes 87%
No 13%
How many lawyers in your firm spend more than half of their time on firm management? Percentage
None 10%
Five or fewer 76%
Six to ten 13%
11-20 2%
More than 20 -
In the last 12 months, how many of the firm’s 20 top billing clients have you met with to discuss the client’s satisfaction with your firm’s performance? Percentage
None 6%
Five or fewer 48%
Six to ten 28%
11-15 14%
16-19 2%
All 20 2%