Death of A Law Firm: One Year Later

Interesting article in today’s Recorder — via — entitled “The Way Some Law Firms Die Now.”  It is mostly about the demise of Heller Ehrmann, but there is also iteresting commentary from consultants who discuss law firms’ “economic resilience” and what is (or was?) perhaps different about “homegrown” SF firms.     

Policy Changes At SEC May Have An Impact On Local Enforcement

From the Recorder (via, we are informed about some policy changes at the SEC that are changing how the San Francisco office is doing its work.  Those of you interested in securities regulation and litigation may be particularly interested.  You can read the whole article (entitled “San Francisco SEC Office Trying to Slim Down, Toughen Up”) here.  

Law Firm Q2 Numbers Continued

Following up on yesterday’s post, we found a link to the actual Peer Monitor Index Report to which we referred.

What Law Firm Q2 2009 Numbers Reveal

Back in April, we posted on the subject of some key legal industry business metrics from the 1st quarter of 2009.  The data was published by Hildebrandt International‘s Peer Monitor Index.  See our earlier post for a further description of the Index.  

Data from the second quarter has apparently been released (at least to the press) and the National Law Journal has reported on the numbers.  You should read the entire article, which is available on the website here.  

Bottom line seems to be:  business in general has not gotten worse since Q 1, which is a sign that the bottom may have been reached and that things are stablizing.  

The Economy’s Effect On Litigation Work

Very useful piece in the National Law Journal (via a link on the website) about the current state of litigation work.

Highlights are:

– litigation work has not picked up in the way it did during the last downturn (which is what many expected)

– on the positive side, it generally has not decreased in the way business in other practice areas have

–  more specifically, intellectual property litigation, is off by about 8% according to a survey of Frotune 1000 legal departments conducted by BTI Consulting, but bankruptcy and employment litigation has increased

– part of the reason work has not increased is a mind-set among general counsel at cash-strapped companies that the company cannot afford litigation and its associated risks

– another reason that litigation work has not increased is that it has gotten more expensive as the costs of e-discovery have risen

– experts predict that litigation work will increase during the second half of 2009 as the economy is expected to stabilze.

Read the whole thing here.  

Some Success Tips for New Lawyers

Legal marketing consultant Stacy West Clark recently outlined some of the things a new lawyer needs to do in order to succeed — and they all have to do with networking and business development.  Her suggestions, as she puts it, “require you to physically get out of your office and engage people one-on-one.”

Read the whole article, which was originally published by the Legal Intelligencer (via the New York Lawyer) here.   

The Future of BigLaw

The New York Lawyer website links to an interesting piece from the Legal Intelligencer that makes some predictions about fundamental changes to BigLaw practice.   

Among those are:  de-leveraging, salary rollbacks, emphsasizing training of new associates (and de-emphasizing the need for them to be billing all of their time from the minute they start at the firm), and alternative billing arrangements. 

Q-1 2009 Law Firm Financials

The American Lawyer reports on Citibank’s Private Banking Flash Report on their law firm clients from the first quarter of 2009.  They aggregate the data (without identifying individual firms) of their participating clients, which consist of 71 Am Law 100 firms, 50 Second Hundred firms, and 54 smaller firms. 

A few key findings:

Revenues were down 3.7% over 2008 Q-1; demand was down 6%; and headcount up 2.5%.  Also, AmLaw 100 firms were more affected than the rest.

Read the whole thing — especially Citibank’s recommendations to its clients. 


Legal Market Experts Discuss Firm Deferrals

Leigh Jones published a piece in the National Law Journal today (available via containing some troubling news for members of the Class of 2009 and 2010.  Legal market followers express a great deal of skepticism about whether firms will be able to start graduates from these classes when they say they can.  These experts note a “pile-up of talent” and uncertainty among firm leaders about “what their next business model might be” and how exactly new associates will fit into it.   Their conclusion is that “most firms won’t need all of their deferred associates once the deferral date arrives.” 

A Look At The Recent Financial History of the 15 Most Profitable NY Corporate Firms

The American Lawyer published an interesting read called: “Are Blue Chip NY Firms Losing Their Balance?” available via

A particularly interesting fact, which helps put the current dismal financials into perspective, is that, in the 4 year run-up to the 2008 melt-down, many of these elite firms saw their profits per partner increase something like 60, and in some cases 80 or 90%! 

Some of this increase was the result of leveraging up — several had leverage ratios in excess of 4:1.   The least leveraged of the elite 15 had a ratio of 2.9:1.