Press Release

Am Law 200 Firms Remain Optimistic Despite Unsettled Economic Environment, Reports ALM’s The American Lawyer

Am Law 200 Firms Remain Optimistic Despite Unsettled Economic Environment, Reports ALM’s The American Lawyer
Top firms faced with cutthroat competition, intense pricing pressure and global uncertainty

NEW YORK – December 01, 2014 – Amid ongoing global uncertainty, competition and pricing pressure, the mood of the legal industry remains unsettled more than five years after the Great Recession, according to the 12th annual Law Firm Leaders Survey, conducted by ALM’s The American Lawyer and featured in the December issue. However, respondents expressed optimism despite having to evolve their practices, technology platforms and staffing mixes to be better positioned in an increasingly competitive environment.

Each year, The American Lawyer gauges the sentiments of Am Law 200 managing partners in an anonymous survey that covers a variety of topics pertaining to their firms and the legal industry.

Among this year’s other key findings:
• 78 percent of the survey’s 100 respondents said they were somewhat optimistic about 2015.
• 66 percent of respondents characterized the morale of their partnership as somewhat optimistic.
• 12 percent of respondents—the largest percentage ever—said they were very optimistic.
•  7 percent of respondents described their partnership as very optimistic.

Respondents cited increased competition and pricing constraints as a source of unease, with long-term trends, such as a supply demand imbalance presenting challenges for the legal industry, despite a continually improving economy. External factors, beyond any managing partner’s control, such as the pace of the global economic recovery, also presented cause for concern. Some 62 percent of survey respondents expected the pace of the recovery to remain the same next year as it was in 2014, while only 33 percent expected it to pick up.

“Law firm leaders may say they are optimistic, but there’s still real unease out there about the marketplace,” said Editor-in-Chief Kim Kleman. “Firms are being forced to operate more strategically to survive, and they’re looking to technology for ways to accelerate their own innovation and efficiency.”

The American Lawyer also today released its analysis of how U.S. law firms with a presence in London are performing in the English capital. While a select few firms have prospered in London—particularly those focused on private equity and high-yield—many American firms have found life across the Atlantic to be tougher than expected, the magazine reported.  The most common missteps include indiscriminate hiring practices and a lack of strategic clarity. This story and others can be found in the December issue and online

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