Altman Weil Connect

Altman Weil Connect brings together news, research and commentary on the changing legal profession. We are monitoring the web for developments in law firm and law department leadership and management. Bookmark this page or sign up for the RSS feed to keep up with the latest news!

A Whole New Mind

April 10th, 2015 by Altman Weil

Marci Krufka Taylor at Mantra Partner has a new commentary on Daniel Pink’s book, A Whole New Mind, and how it applies to law firm marketing.  Lawyers tend to be ‘left-brain’ analytical thinkers, but do clients in 2015 want more?

Read it at Mantra Partner

What do in-house lawyers read?

April 10th, 2015 by Altman Weil

“This matters, of course. First, if you want to talk intelligently to in-house lawyers, you should have a sense of what’s on their mind. Second, if you ever write articles with an eye on developing business, it would be nice to know that the target audience is seeing the stuff that you write.”

So says Above the Law columnist Mark Herrmann in this is must-read article for every law firm marketer and every lawyer who writes to promote his or her practice.

Read it at Above the Law

Most clients don’t want the lowest price available

October 30th, 2013 by Altman Weil

Altman Weil released its 14th annual Chief Legal Officer Survey last week, with lots of interesting data for corporate law departments as well as the law firms that serve them.  One of the most surprising survey findings involves pricing.  When asked about preferred outside counsel pricing scenarios, the over 200 Chief Legal Officers who participated in the survey overwhelmingly indicated that their preference is not for the lowest price they can get.

The survey outlined four possible law firm pricing options.  Here are client preferences:

  • Transparent pricing:  We want to understand how/why the price is set and have the opportunity to discuss changes - 36.4%
  • Guaranteed pricing: We want to know in advance what it will cost - 33.7%
  • Value-based pricing:  We want to pay a variable price based on the results we get - 20.3%
  • Lowest pricing: We want the lowest price available - 9.6%  

“If a rate discount is the only thing offered, law departments will certainly take it, but Chief Legal Officers are saying what they really want is predictability and control. So far this is a challenge that most law firms have been slow to address,” according to Altman Weil principal and survey author Dan Dilucchio.

Read it at Altman Weil

New legal industry surveys

August 8th, 2013 by Altman Weil

Here’s an update on a few noteworthy surveys that have been released this summer:

Law Firm Billing Rates

“For in-house counsel who want to do some comparison shopping on law firm billing rates, a new analysis from TyMetrix Legal Analytics and CEB shows… average hourly rate in 2012 for partners was $536.47, and for associates it was $370.25…. Partner rates went up 3.1 percent in 2012, compared to a 4 percent increase in 2011. Similarly, average associate rates increased 7.4 percent in 2012, versus 8.5 percent the year before.”

Read it at Corporate Counsel 

General Counsel Compensation:

“After across-the-board declines the previous year, compensation bounced back up in 2012 in every category of GC pay that [Corporate Counsel’s GC Compensation Survey] measures. Average total cash received rose 6.7 percent to $1,853,671, which is the highest figure we’ve seen … since 2000.”

Read it at Corporate Counsel

Law Firm Libraries:

The American Lawyer’s 12th annual Law Librarian Survey finds that, financial uptick not withstanding, the pressure to contain costs continues, clients are even more reluctant to pay for research than they were a year ago, and negotiations with vendors — never exactly a festive occasion — are still often contentious.  Overall, spending on outside vendors has held steady, with responding firms reporting an average 2013 library budget (including staff, print materials, electronic resources, etc.) of $6,194,015, compared to a 2012 average of $6,162,130. As in the past several surveys, increases in online spending were mitigated by cuts to print collections.”

Read it at The American Lawyer

A law firm gets serious about knowledge management

July 16th, 2013 by Altman Weil

Latham & Watkins is rewarding time spent on knowledege management (KM) in its bonus structure, according to The Lawyer, counting an hour spent on KM as equivalent to a billable hour. 

“Since its launch in April 2012, more than 860 KM and thought-leadership projects have started within the firm,” said [Latham’s Global Director of KM, David] Fitch. “That equates to around 50,000 hours contributed of attorney time.”

The range of KM projects Latham’s lawyers are involved in that generates credited hours includes drafting and updating of forms, organisation of precedent and know-how resources, the drafting of client alerts and other thought leadership pieces.”

Read it at The Lawyer

Changing your business model

June 21st, 2013 by Altman Weil

There’s lots of talk about the changing law firm business model, but how does a firm actually go about making such a big systemic change?  Addleshaws (a 600-lawyer UK law firm) has been working on re-engineering its service delivery model, and offers some insights on what they’ve done so far.

Read it at The Lawyer

New law school grads

June 20th, 2013 by Altman Weil

NALP has released their latest numbers on employment and starting salaries for new law school graduates.  The data represents the status of the Class of 2012 as of February 15, 2013 (about nine months after graduation).


  • Overall employment for 2012 grads is 85.5%, down for the 5th year in a row

  • 64.4% of graduates got a job requiring a JD, the lowest percentage NALP has ever recorded

  • Half of employed graduates found a job in private practice

  • Median law firm starting salary was $90,000, up from $85,000 last year

Read it at NALP

AFAs as opportunities

June 11th, 2013 by Altman Weil

Alternative fee arrangements, like other elements of the changing law firm business model, can be viewed as threats  or opportunities.  There’s an excellent and quick read in ABA’s Law Practice Today online magazine that suggests six ways to think about AFAs in a positive light.  Among other things the author points out that AFAs are “mechanisms for relationships,” and they “breed creative service offerings.”  We agree.

Read it ABA Law Practice Today

New survey on legal industry trends

May 22nd, 2013 by Altman Weil

Altman Weil has released its fifth annual Law Firms in Transition Survey. Conducted in March and April 2013, the survey polled Managing Partners and Chairs at 791 US law firms with 50 or more lawyers.  Completed surveys were received from 238 firms, including 37% of the 250 largest US law firms.

Some top trend data from the survey:

  • 96% of firm leaders think more price competition and greater practice efficiency are permanent changes in the legal market
  • 90% of leaders believe there will be more commoditization of legal work
  • 80% of leaders believe there will be more non-hourly billing arrangements
  • 79% expect more competition from non-traditional legal service providers
  • 45% of firms are working on more efficient legal service delivery
  • 29% of firms have changed their strategic approach to pricing since the recession
  • 91.5% of firms raised their overall billing rates for 2013, with a median increase of 3%
  • A median of 20% to 30% of all legal fees are discounted
  • A median of 10% of fees are generated from non-hourly billing

The complete 63-page survey report includes sections on industry trends, pricing and alternative fee arrangements, economic performance, law firm growth, lawyer staffing levels, succession planning, and the future of the profession.

It is available to download at:

AmLaw 100 2013

May 3rd, 2013 by Altman Weil

The American Lawyer released its review of BigLaw economic performance for 2012 and the numbers are up, if modestly:

  • Revenue: up 3.4%
  • RPL: up 2.6%
  • PPP: up 4.2%

The magazine’s take on this:

“Revenue per lawyer is up not because firms added head count—that metric only nudged up 0.8 percent—but primarily as a result of positive economic indicators. Firms were able to raise rates, and their lawyers, as a rule, were able to bill more hours (although this varied widely by practice area). Profits followed a similar path. Net income edged up 4.2 percent, and profits per partner rose even as equity partner head count stayed flat. This suggests that firms posted real profit gains, as opposed to (ahem) adjusting their partner head count.”

Read it at The American Lawyer