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Law Firms in Transition 2012: An Altman Weil Flash Survey

I found the article below to be reflective of the changes in the legal industry in North America and abroad. I concur that the findings in the survey reflect my experience. I believe that the law firms who embrace alternatives to hourly pricing, commoditization of legal work and strategies for greater efficiency in the delivery of legal services will be the industry leaders.

What are your thoughts?

Posted on LinkedIn August 7, 2012 by Ann B. Founder of Virtual Intelligence VQ AB Stockholm, Sweden

“In the fourth annual “Law Firms in Transition Survey” by legal consulting firm Altman Weil it is revealed that there has been a radical shift in attitudes since 2009. Trends that were largely seen as temporary in 2009 are now viewed as law firm leaders as permanent changes to the industry and the transition in the legal profession is seen to be increasing in intensity and pace.

The survey polled managing partners and chairs at 792 U.S. law firms with 50 or more lawyers, with statistics showing a major shift in leaders’ assessment of what the profession will face in its future. Clearly the bigger firms are waking up to and addressing the profound changes and challenges that are occurring in the practice of big law.

“Emerging legal market trends that were viewed with considerable scepticism in 2009 have become majority opinions in 2012,” said Altman Weil principal Eric Seeger. “These findings suggest that change management will be a required core competency of law firm leadership going forward. The leadership challenge will be to drive change, not just react prudently to external conditions. These are striking changes.”

Here are some of the key findings from the survey:

• In 2009, 42 percent of those surveyed believed that more price competition will be a permanent fixture of the post-recession legal market; 92 percent believe that now.

• This year, 84 percent of those surveyed believe more commoditization of legal work will be a permanent change; in 2009, only 26 percent of respondents thought that was the case.
• In 2009, only 28 percent believed that more firms will adopt nonhourly billing, whereas 80 percent anticipates that today.
• Now, 46 percent expect that outsourcing legal work will become a permanent fixture, compared with 12 percent in 2009.
• In 2012, failure to successfully transition key clients and the resulting loss of revenue are top succession planning concerns, followed by leadership succession and loss of expertise.
Do these findings reflect your own experience, and your own predictions? Do you believe that the practice of law will be permanently characterized by pricing pressures, further commoditization of legal work and a need for greater efficiency in the delivery of legal services? What other trends do you see for the legal profession?
The full survey can be downloaded here:

Law Firms in Transition 2012: An Altman Weil Flash Survey altmanweil.com

Altman Weil’s Law Firms in Transition Surveys have chronicled an unprecedented shift in thinking among law firm leaders. The question is no longer whether to expect permanent changes in the competitive environment—those changes…”

About Catherine D'Aversa

As President of Legal Resource Consulting Inc. (“LRC”) Catherine D’Aversa is engaged by law firms, government legal departments and corporate in-house law departments to improve paraprofessional skills and services using extensive skills developed over more than 32 years in the legal industry. LRC analyses and assesses paraprofessional services within its clients’ organization and provides recommendations on structure, technology, systems, processes and management to improve services standards, productivity and profitability. LRC acts as Project Manager to implement recommendations to enhance paraprofessional skills and services to better meet lawyer and client needs while increasing revenue. LRC delivers professional development workshops on topics such as Docketing Strategies, Practice Management, Practice Development, Project Management, Strategies for Productivity & Profitability, Working as a Legal Professional and Legal Writing and Reporting. Catherine is a contributing author of several legal books and a regular speaker and commentator at business seminars and conferences.