BigLaw leaders have many things to think about when guiding their firms to Top 100 finishes. One major item is the need to respond to client expectations of value.  The idea that clients expect value in the legal services they buy is not a radical idea.  As long as law firms have had clients, there

Fingerprints are unique.  No two snowflakes are alike.  And the more one looks at law firms, the more it is apparent that each law firm has its own personality.  Whether small or large, local, national, or international in scope, general service or specialized boutique, driven by profit or public service, each law firm has its own DNA.

Though distinctive, many law firms share common characteristics.  One shared by all law firms is the need to be financially healthy.  Law firm financial health is the universal need of every law firm—without financial health a law firm’s future is seriously suspect.


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Although the final numbers are not in yet, 2018 has been touted as a good year for law firms.  Based on various reports including the 2019 Citi-Hildebrandt Client Advisory, revenues were up, billing rate increases held, and client demand increased.  These improvements are not shocking as law firm performance has been ascending in recent years.

Just because industry performance this past year was on the whole very good, not all law firms can look back on 2018 with such positive thoughts.  Indeed, the overall industry uptick is pulled along by strong performances among the AmLaw 100, especially the top 25 firms.  Performance among the second AmLaw 100 (or 101 to 200) generally was not as positive. Similarly, firms outside the second 100 did not, as a class, enjoy the kind of robust financial performance logged by the bigger firms.  Specialty firms (obviously focused in the right specialty) were the exception among smaller firms.


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Law firm leaders understandably see lucrative client work as an important key to overall firm profitability.  Left to their own devices, those leaders would eagerly raise rates or otherwise take steps to ratchet up the yield on work.  In contrast, their clients often consider the containment of legal costs as a key component to valuable

What is your law firm worth?

This question is paramount when the owners of a firm consider the possibilities related to a merger, a succession plan involving existing firm members, or the outright sale of an established practice.

There are variations by state as to what can and cannot be sold as part of transitioning

After years of success (by any number of measures), more than a few firm founders (or later generation leaders) confront succession.  Some of them are simply ready to step back and enjoy life-turning their worries over to the next generation has great appeal.  Others are driven by unanticipated developments-illness or family circumstances compel them to

A law firm report card is a good thing.  Much like a child’s school report card telling a parent how school is going, a law firm report card can inform firm leadership about its progress, shortfalls, and areas that need improvement.  In these days of industry disruption and heightened competition, periodic assessments can give a

Law firms come in all shapes and sizes.  Some consciously specialize in distinct areas of the law while others are more reactionary-willing to do anything they feel generally competent to do.  Firms can be local in scope, only serving a home town populace from its home town address.  Geographically expansive law firms can have a

Law firms perpetually are in transition. In our changing legal environment, transition can arise when business strategy requires adjustment, merger is considered, layoffs are implemented, lateral hiring is pursued, leadership succession is at hand (see Cultivating the Next Generation), crisis arises or firm wind-up is decided and implemented.

In addressing any transitional event

iStock_000013760109SmallOver the last two weeks some attention has been given to the topic of law firms raising rates. Bill Josten recently wrote about information coming from Thomson ReutersLegal Executive Institute and Peer Monitor that suggests that raising rates may undermine firms’ goals of greater profitability. A similar report followed, also drawing on Thomson