The 2013 Report by the Center for the Study of the Legal Profession at the Georgetown University Law Center and Thomson Reuters Peer Monitor on trends in the legal market in 2012 and predictions for the future is not encouraging for those who favor business as usual. Some highlights:
- In 2012 the number of lawyers in U.S. firms grew by 2%, but demand grew by only 0.5%
- After eight straight quarters of falling demand for legal services in the U.S., demand increased at the end of 2010, and has grown modestly since then, but is still well below the pre-2008 period.
- Unlike the U.S. and Europe’s, demand for legal services in Asia and Latin America has been strong, but may be beginning to slow.
- Lawyer productivity has been essentially flat.
- Billing rates rose 3.4%, but realization rates continued to fall, reaching an historic low of 83.6% AmLaw 100 firm realization rate was even lower, 82.8%.
- Profits per partner grew an average of 3.58%. AmLaw 100 firm growth was only 2.45%.
- The median starting salary for law school grads entering private practice has fallen 35% since 2009.
- The gap between equity and non-equity partners is growing, as lawyers with ownership stakes now average about 2.5 times more compensation. Pay spreads are increasing to 7:1 or even higher at some firms.
Here's the report (PDF).