In 2015, law firm leaders and consultants project a fat year for transactional work and a lean one for litigation. And data privacy may be the year’s show-stopping practice area. Sony Pictures’ high-profile hack has woken corporate clients in all industries to the threat of cyberattacks—and the phones of data privacy lawyers have not stopped ringing since. But perhaps the new year’s greatest unknown is how changes in the patent landscape will translate into greater or lesser demand for IP litigators.

As law firm leaders and practice heads assess the outlook for 2015, the consensus is for a pretty good year: Hildebrandt Consulting predicts about 5 percent profit growth industrywide. But there are continuing pressures on traditional law firm models. Lateral partner mobility is expected to reach an all-time high. Firms seem to have gotten more wary of the lush income guarantees many laterals have seen in recent years—and which played key roles in recent law firm collapses—though they haven’t given them up. And as talent becomes more expensive, some industry analysts expect firms to trim other expenses, like rent: Will this be the year an AmLaw 100 firm moves associates into cubes?

M&A BOOM TIMES

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