Friday, July 8, 2011

Pro Bono Hours Are Dropping at the Big Firms

  From the American Lawyer:

Just as large U.S. law firms were returning to solid profitability last year, pro bono activity was dropping sharply, with average lawyer hours among the top 200 firms down 8 percent to 56.5 hours, reversing a decade of steady growth, according the annual pro bono survey in the July issue of ALM’s The American Lawyer.

The decline was even sharper among the top 100 firms, whose average pro bono hours per lawyer plummeted 10.8 percent. The next hundred-largest actually increased average hours 2.1 percent. Average profits per partner climbed the 8.4 percent last year at the top hundred firms and 3.4 percent at the next hundred.

The probable explanation: It’s the associates who do most of the pro bono work. Now, with the firms getting more paying work, the associates are spending more of their time on paying clients.

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