February 19, 2013
There is no doubt the economic downturn in 2008 significantly altered the state of the U.S. legal market, but did it cause the challenging, client-driven market law firms now face or was it a catalyst that forced firms to wake up and recognize an inevitable market destination? The 2013 Report on the State of the Legal Market, prepared by The Center for the Study of the Legal Profession at the Georgetown University Law Center and Thomson Reuters Peer Monitor, highlights several strong, underlying forces in progress that may have prompted a market shift. Some of these forces include:
-Growing availability of public information about law firms and their capabilities
-Inexorable drive toward the commoditization of legal services
-Growth of enabling technologies that simplified previously labor intensive tasks
-Emergence of non-traditional service providers
-Changing roles of in-house general counsel and corporate law departments
-Impact of globalization
-Collapse of an unsustainable economic model driving law firm growth essentially on the ability of firms to raise their rates 6 to 8 percent a year with little regard for the economic impact.
Whether impacting the work of lawyers at all levels, driving an ever more efficient market, or creating further competition, these forces cannot be overlooked. Firms that accept these changes and the market state for what it is, not what they wish it would return to, and analyze these forces to yield smart firm strategies and solid market positioning will be more likely to succeed.