Thursday, December 2, 2010

A meeting of DC law firm partners confirms that fundamental changes in legal practice are here to stay

Consistent with a report yesterday in the American Lawyer, the Blog of LegalTimes notes that a meeting of DC law firm partners supports the general consensus that recent changes in law practice resulting from the recession are likely permanent.

During a breakfast discussion this morning, the managing partners of some of Washington’s top law firms said that they believe the Big Law business model has fundamentally changed and that the industry is just now starting to figure out what the new environment is going to look like.

. . . .

Overall, the consensus was that 2009 was an unprecedentedly bad year, both in terms of drops in revenue and in the reduced headcounts many firms saw as a result of layoffs and associate deferrals. While there were some slight improvements in 2010, this year failed to mark a return to the boom-time days in the years leading up to the recession.

. . . .

Toward the end of the discussion, David Brown, the NLJ’s editor-in-chief who served as moderator, asked whether the changes being made by law firms today were temporary or marked a permanent shift in the profession. Flanagan said that he sees them as fundamental shifts that are here to stay, particularly in regard to alternative billing arrangements.

'For an alternative fee arrangement to work, firms have to deliver for their clients. That takes discipline and efficiency. That’s not going to change any time soon,' he said.

You can read the rest here.


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