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  • Fri, February 17, 2023 11:35 AM | Sarah Hayden (Administrator)

    Written by: Karen Sloan

    (Reuters) - U.S. law firms ended 2022 with a whimper thanks to a worsening drop in client demand, declining productivity and rising expenses, a new report found.

    Demand was down 3.9% in the fourth quarter, while productivity fell more than 7% year-over-year, according to the latest edition of the Thomson Reuters Institute’s Law Firm Financial Index, released Tuesday. The index tracks key financial metrics across 170 large and midsized law firms.

    Lawyers billed an average 112 hours per month in the fourth quarter of 2022 — down from 121 hours the previous year. Every practice area tracked by the index saw a decline in client demand over the fourth quarter of 2021.

    Demand for M&A work was down nearly 17%, followed by real estate, which was down 11.5%. Demand was down by 10% for both bankruptcy and tax practices. Profits per partner declined 4.5% over the past 12 months, the index found.

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  • Fri, January 27, 2023 11:44 AM | Sarah Hayden (Administrator)

    Written by: Matt Spencer

    Institutions such as Yale, Harvard, Columbia, Georgetown, NYU, UC Berkeley, and Stanford have all announced that they will withdraw from the U.S. News & World Report Law School Rankings. The report has served as a ranking system for the country’s top law schools, acting as the purveyor of which institutions were prestigious and which were not.

    For consideration, administrators are asked to answer questions regarding grades and test scores for incoming applicants, as well as expected salaries once graduated. Opponents of the publication argue that schools could be tempted to only accept students with perfect grades, and later push them to accept only high paying jobs, as opposed to public service or interest jobs that benefit society. In years past, some schools have changed their practices or policies so as to improve their ranking, even if it undermines the school’s academic quality or diversity.

    In a recent study, it was discovered that a 25.9% poverty rate exists for law students with two U.S.-born non-Hispanic Black parents, versus a 7.5% poverty rate for white law students. While privilege clearly translates into advantages for admissions testing and academic performance, it very rarely guarantees professional potential. If administrators are incentivized to only accept students with the best grades, versus possibly those with good grades and serious financial need, an unhealthy system of prestige is perpetuated, and those with potential are very often left out.

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  • Fri, January 06, 2023 2:43 PM | Sarah Hayden (Administrator)

    Written by: Karen Sloan

    (Reuters) - U.S. News & World Report said on Monday it will modify its law school rankings amid a growing revolt among schools that say the closely watched list hampers their diversity and affordability.

    The upcoming edition of the rankings, which are typically released in March, will rely solely on publicly available data collected by the American Bar Association and reputational surveys completed by academics, judges and lawyers — meaning all schools will be ranked on the same factors regardless of whether they participate or not, according to a letter U.S. News sent to law deans Monday. The publication said it will give more weight to schools’ employment and bar pass rate, while decreasing the weight of reputational surveys.

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  • Fri, December 09, 2022 1:11 PM | Sarah Hayden (Administrator)

    Written by: Andrew Maloney

    Many firms will see a decline in profitability by year’s end, as they head into a 2023 with a “high” likelihood of recession and a higher cost structure due to inflation, a new report concludes.

    Confronting those challenges, some law firms may take a number of measures within the upcoming months to increase efficiencies and maximize profits, including adjusting leverage, investing in highly-skilled staff such as pricing specialists, reducing office space, outsourcing more and targeting strategic growth instead of opportunistic growth, said analysts at Citi’s Global Wealth at Work Law Firm Group and Hildebrandt Consulting in the report.

    Additionally, hiring may shift, as the market will likely favor firms with a tilt toward practices such as litigation or bankruptcy and restructuring, according to the group’s 2023 Client Advisory, published Wednesday.

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  • Fri, November 11, 2022 10:15 AM | Sarah Hayden (Administrator)

    Written by: Andrew Maloney

    For years, the richest law firms have been getting even richer, increasing the profit gap between themselves and others and forcing smaller law firms to join forces or wither on the vine. But 2022 is a reminder that segmentation isn’t a one-way street, as clients become more cost-conscious and certain kinds of work and practices move down-market.

    According to the latest Law Firm Financial Index from Thomson Reuters, law firms beyond the Am Law 200 (defined as midsize firms in the report) saw an increase in overall demand during the third quarter, relative to the same time last year, while Am Law 100 and Second Hundred firms saw declines.

    For those smaller firms, demand in labor and employment (up 2%) and litigation (up about 1.5%) specifically picked up.

    The analysts wrote that those demand trends were “exacerbated by increasingly mobile legal demand in the market, with evidence of smaller firms seeing greater success both overall and in certain practices, suggesting that clients are now more willing to shop around.”

    An earlier report this year from Thomson Reuters noted that 2015 was the last year in which the average midsize law firm outperformed the average Am Law 100 firm in terms of demand growth. That’s the case in 2022, in spite of the drag created by increasing overhead and rising associate compensation.

    But demand shifts between segments isn’t evidence that the gap between bigger and smaller firms is narrowing or that segmentation isn’t occurring, said Jim Jones, a former managing partner of Arnold & Porter and now senior director of Ethics and the Legal Profession at Georgetown University Law Center.

    Indeed, he said he thinks it’s mounting evidence of segmentation.

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  • Fri, October 07, 2022 11:49 AM | Sarah Hayden (Administrator)

    Written by: Ayanna Alexander

    Veteran women attorneys are jettisoning Big Law in favor of in-house jobs at a higher rate, an accelerating trend that hits top law firms at a time when they’re fighting to improve their diversity.

    In 2021, only 35% of women who left one of the top 200 law firms in the US joined another Big Law firm, according to data from legal consultancy Leopard Solutions. Through the first nine months of 2022, that number has shrunk to 28%. Moving to in-house positions remains the most popular second choice for women who say that gives them more control over their careers.

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  • Fri, July 22, 2022 10:25 AM | Sarah Hayden (Administrator)

    Written by: Zach Warren

    According to a McKinsey & Co. survey, about 47% of workers had some sort of hybrid arrangement pre-pandemic, with the opportunity to work from home often limited to those in management positions. Post-pandemic, that shot up to about 80% of workers with a hybrid arrangement, consisting of workers across the job type spectrum.

    However, flexible working hasn’t necessarily meant equitable work arrangements all around. A separate Deloitte study noted that while women want to work remotely at about a 10% higher rate than men, 60% of women felt they missed important meetings or lacked exposure to senior leadership. What’s more, 50% of women said that they had experienced microaggressions working remotely, and women reported feeling more burnout now than even at the height of COVID restrictions.

    So how are legal organizations handling these dual realities, particularly for caregivers and those with additional responsibilities at home? The “A New Way of Working: Supporting Library Professionals in Remote and Hybrid Workplaces” session at the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) Conference provided some tips for law firms and legal organizations to make sure that remote workers aren’t being left behind.

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  • Fri, April 08, 2022 11:25 AM | Sarah Hayden (Administrator)

    Written by: Karen Sloan

    The expected confirmation of Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court could prompt a greater number of diverse students — particularly Black women — to pursue a law degree, legal educators predicted this week.

    Jackson, who would be the first Black women to sit on the high court, has won the support of three Republican senators and is poised to be confirmed as early as Thursday. Black women deans at three U.S. law schools described her rise as an inspiration to underrepresented groups in the profession.

    “To see soon-to-be Justice Jackson sitting in her robe — the image of it is so powerful and meaningful,” said Rutgers law dean Kimberly Mutcherson, noting that many first-generation students have told her they never encountered a lawyer who looked like them until law school. “That can plant a little seed where a girl thinks, ‘Hmm, I wonder how you get there?’”

    Racial diversity among law students has grown incrementally over the past 15 years but still lags behind the U.S. population. Non-white students earned 31% of the Juris Doctors awarded in 2020, up from 23% in 2007, according to law school non-profit AccessLex Institute. About 8% of this year’s first-year law students are Black, according to the American Bar Association, compared to more than 12% of the U.S. population. Fewer than 10% of federal judges are Black, ABA data show.

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  • Fri, January 28, 2022 10:44 AM | Sarah Hayden (Administrator)

    Written by: Andrew Maloney

    In 2021, the operative question for the legal industry went from “whether” to “how much.”

    If the previous year showed Big Law could survive and even thrive in the face of a global catastrophe such as the COVID-19 pandemic, 2021 was about how much further lawyers and firms could continue to push in spite of it.

    On bonuses, remote work and profits, many firms did go above and beyond their surprisingly strong 2020 marks. They were more creative, more flexible and made more money in 2021.

    The same can be said for lateral movement. Perhaps it’s no surprise that in a year that coined the phrase “Great Resignation” and in which “talent war” was the most popular term-of-art in Big Law, the number of moves in 2021 significantly outpaced those in 2020, according to industry observers and multiple data sources.

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