Beyond the crisis - what does the future hold for biglaw?

May 6, 2011 After sustained growth for a period of twelve years, the last three years have seen the legal markets in decline around the world. Work in mergers and acquisitions has dropped substantially, and clients are demanding alternative billing and better value from law firms. Legal process outsourcing firms are contributing to a decrease in demand for legal services. The collapse of 55 yar old firm Howrey is a dramatic demonstration of the precarious position held by many large firms.

According to an annual survey by the National Law Journal, the 250 largest firm in the US reduced their staff by 9,500 lawyers in 2009 and 2010, nearly 8% of the total. Many firms deferred hiring new graduates, leaving newly qualified lawyers languishing in an oversupplied labour market.

This article, published in The Economist, asks whether we are likely to see a reversal of some of these trends, and concludes that many of the changes are here to stay – clients are expected to maintain pressure for low legal bills, demanding alternative fee arrangements and the use of outsourcing options or technological solutions for the completion of routine work.

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