Q3 Numbers: At BIGLAW, Expenses Outpace Uptick In Business

The well-known legal business consulting firm Hildebrandt Baker Robbins just published a report of its Peer Monitor Index, which includes information about key law firm business metrics for July – September of 2011.

We’ve regularly blogged about the Peer Monitor system before, but to refresh you , it is a service that allows law firms to access their peers’ financial data (in the aggregate) in exchange for supplying their own data to the system for others to access (on a normalized and aggregated basis). There are 35 Am Law 100 firms, 35 Am Law 200 firms and 30 NLJ 250 firms in the system. You can find more information about the Peer Monitor system here.

You can read a summary of the report here.

Among other things, the report shows that demand for legal services continues to grow, though the rate of growth has slowed.  At the same time, expenses have continued to increase as has the rate of that increase.   Part of the explanation for the increase in expenses is that new attorney hiring has increased (as it has been doing for the previous three quarters) in anticipation of growing demand. 

The report warns: “While firms have been hiring, however, demand has slowed as the year has progressed, widening the gap between law firm capacity and available work. Whether this trend continues will depend on the performance of the broader economy and whether we see continued recovery in litigation and transactional work.”  Stay tuned.