Business of Law

Consultant Expects 2009 Law Firm Profits to Be a ‘Mixed Bag’

Last year was difficult for associates and legal staffers who lost their jobs, but their law firms aren’t faring as badly.

Profits at most law firms will change slightly—either up or down—according to a law firm consultant interviewed by the Am Law Daily.

“I think 2009 will be a mixed bag,” Zeughauser told the publication. “You may see some firms that have had a really good year and some that are down materially, but for most firms profits will be up or down a few percentage points.”

The Am Law Daily is chronicling news of partner profit numbers at America’s largest law firms, and at least one of them has beat Zeughauser’s prediction. Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft reported an increase in profits per partner of 28 percent last year. Others were in keeping with his predictions: Partner profits dropped 3 percent at Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal, they increased 1 percent at K&L Gates, and they increased 4 percent at Morrison & Foerster.

Jason Yuen of Yuen Attorney Search says firms were able to increase profits because of cost-cutting moves. “A lot of firms took the opportunity that came with the economic recession to not only cut costs but also get deals on office space, expand client relationships with alternative fee arrangements, and recruit new partners,” he told the AM Law Daily.

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