2016: At Best, Just an OK Year for Biglaw

Wells Fargo’s Private Bank (specifically, its Legal Specialty Group) recently surveyed large law firm managing partners at the end of Q 3.  Among the key findings, is that, while revenue is up 3.8% (over the first nine months of 2015), that is not due to an increase in the demand for legal services, but rather owing to rate hikes (an average of 3.6%).  Moreover, productivity (billing hours worked per lawyer) was down.  And a largely unanticipated increase in associate salaries that took place over the summer added to the expense side of the equation.  Despite all this, attorney headcount increased 2.2%.

In an interview with the AmLaw Daily, a Wells Fargo representative said, among other things, that “[t]he industry will probably have to become more aggressive managing attorney head count to the state of demand.”

The findings were based on survey results from 130 large firms, 60 of which are in the AmLaw 100.