Post-recession law firm practice: Staffing, Fees, Competition
October 22nd, 2010 by Altman Weil
This month The Legal Intelligencer has been running an excellent series on how law firms fared during the recession and where they’re headed in the recovery.
The first looked at law firm staffing models, use of associates and practice efficiency.
“Everywhere I go people are basically doing more with less and it’s OK,” Altman Weil’s Tom Clay said, adding later, “Now that lawyers found out they can do just fine, I don’t think you will see staffing levels return soon.”
The second article offered the client perspective on alternative fees and the inside-outside relationship.
“[Susan Hackett, general counsel of the Association of Corporate Counsel] likened the AFA discussion to a high school dance with boys lined on one side of the gym and girls on the other. Neither side wants to come into the middle to start the dance. Most clients are waiting for the firms to raise the AFA issue because the clients don’t have the metrics or knowledge in place to manage it. Frankly, Hackett said, it’s the firms’ business. Clients aren’t interested in driving how firms manage these projects, they just want to feel like, at the end of the matter, they got a fair, valuable price, she said.”
The most recent entry in the series profiled several smaller Pennsylvania firms that have acquired new clients that once would have looked exclusively to megafirms for counsel.
“Last year, as the economy faltered, many midsized firms began to hear opportunity knocking and came to find more and more large corporate clients gathered on their doorsteps. The recession forced in-house counsel at even the biggest companies to find creative ways to stretch shrinking legal budgets and many of them turned their attention to midsized and small firms.”
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