Wednesday, February 2, 2011
That's the upshot of this post from Belly of the Beast regarding the "new normal" within BigLaw. Associates have fewer prospects for advancement, the billable hour is still king, the distribution of pay within the partner ranks has become more diffuse with fewer lawyers producing more work at higher compensation levels.
The pressure to bill hours is increasing. Unfortunately, it remains an important, albeit misnamed, productivity metric. Indeed, rewarding time alone is the antithesis of measuring true productivity, which should focus on the efficiency of completing tasks -- not the total number of hours used to get them done.
As one law firm management consultant told the NLJ, "We're finally seeing the bottom of the legal recession...There's been a reset. There are fewer lawyers producing more work and more revenue."
When the Am Law 100 profit results come out in May, Citi's prediction will come true: As the economy continues to sputter and young law school graduates worry about their prospects, overall average profits per equity partner will follow their steady upward trajectory.
Law firm management consultants might say all of this results from increased productivity that the "reset" of big law has produced. That's one way to put it. But the the growing spread between highest and lowest within equity partnerships -- coupled with the plight of everyone else -- may reveal something more sinister: The worst economic downturn of modern times has provided protective cover to greed atop the pyramids.
You can read the rest here.