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Nearly two-thirds of senior lawyers expect revenue at their own firm to be down annually in 2008-09, according to Legal Week research.

The poll, based on responses from 100 partners, found that 59% are expecting falls in revenue at their own firm in 2008-09 compared with last year, with 24% expecting increases and 17% expecting revenue to stay flat. More than a quarter of respondents thought revenues would be down annually by between 15% and 10%.

The Big Question poll, which will be published in full next week, found an even greater proportion are expecting falls in profitability, with 81% expecting profits per equity partner (PEP) to fall against the previous year at their firm. At the gloomy end, 30% were expecting an annual fall in PEP of more than 20%.

However, it seems possible that the fragile state of confidence in the legal market is overstating the reality. As such, the Big Question poll found respondents were considerably more bearish about the wider market than their own firm, with nearly 90% predicting revenue to fall across the top 50.

In addition, the predictions for financial results have generally been more downbeat than the results a number of major firms are preparing to unveil.

One magic circle partner said: “It is going to be a mixed picture and it’ll be unlikely we will see any positive signals. For some firms, revenue might go up but profit will be down. It is hard to say how firms are accounting for the large restructurings. Some will get it over and done with in one go, but some might spread it over a few years.”

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