Press Release

ALM Intelligence Releases Barbarians at the Gate Report

The Invasion of Regional Legal Markets and How Mid-sized Firms Should Respond

New York, NY – June 5, 2018 — ALM Intelligence’s Legal division has released the “Barbarians at the Gate” report, which provides a detailed look at how national and international firms are expanding into regional legal markets and the strategies mid-sized law firms are using to respond.

Large law firms have spent the past two decades expanding into new markets at a tremendous pace. Since 2001, America’s largest 250 law firms by attorney headcount, have nearly doubled their geographic coverage – adding more than 1,400 new offices across the globe. This expansion has transformed many regional legal markets. This report questions what impact geographic expansion has had on local firms whose markets are being “invaded”? The report identifies how the market share and profitability of those firms have been affected.

The data makes a compelling case that mid-sized firms have come under tremendous pressure over the past decade due to expansion by national and international firms,” said Nicholas Bruch, Senior Analyst at ALM Intelligence and author of the report. “Many regional firms have seen significant declines in market share. Their best partners and clients are being targeted by aggressively expanding firms. Despite all of this pressure, we found that many regional and mid-sized firms are finding success.”

The report’s findings include:

  • Larger firms are driving the expansion trend: 50% of the new law firm offices that have opened since 2001, have been launched by 28 firms within the NLJ 250, a list produced by ALM’s National Law Journal publication.
  • Domestic expansion leads the way: While international expansion has been important for many firms, 70% of the offices opened since 2001 have been within the United States.
  • U.S. markets are seeing a significant increase in competition: Most major U.S. markets have seen a 50% or larger increase in the number of large law firms present.  
  • Mid-sized firms are coming under pressure: 60% of regional firms are smaller, in their home market, than they were a decade ago.
  • Many mid-sized firms are finding successful strategies: More than 50% of mid-sized firms have seen inflation adjusted increases in profitability despite significant increases in their home markets.

The “Barbarians at the Gate” report analyzes data on nearly 1,500 law firm office openings across the globe over the past two decades. The report also looks at specific case studies, examining how these trends impact specific markets and specific firms.

“There are more than 1,300 law firms in the United States with between 30 and 200 attorneys, and most of them are competing with larger and smaller firms, both for business and talent,” said Patrick Fuller, Vice President, Legal, ALM Intelligence. “The ability to not only withstand large firm expansion into a market, but also prosper from it, is a defining moment for midsize managing partners.”

To find out more about the report and download the Executive Summary, visit:

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