Law Firms

Report finds greater flow of 'big-ticket' work to the nation's top law firms

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Demand for legal services is increasing at the nation’s top 100 law firms, but not for others, according to the Thomson Reuters Peer Monitor Index.

The top 100 firms had demand growth of 1.6 percent since the beginning of the year, while demand was down 0.5 percent for second hundred firms and down 0.8 percent for midsize firms, according to the report, drawn on data from major law firms. The report can be downloaded here. The Am Law Daily (sub. req.) has coverage.

The pattern was the same for the second quarter, when demand growth was up 1.1 percent for the top 100 firms, down 0.6 percent for second hundred firms and down 0.9 percent for midsize firms.

Mike Abbott, vice president of client management and global thought leadership at Thomson Reuters, commented in a press release. “While the overall market continues to struggle to find traction this year, we are seeing signs of improved strength across BigLaw,” he said.

In prior years, Abbott said, some large law firms had seen part of their work to shift to smaller firms that could offer more cost-effective options. “We are now seeing a greater flow of ‘big ticket’ work such as litigation and M&A to the ranks of the largest national and global firms,” he said.

Top 100 firms and second hundred firms had similar productivity figures in the second quarter, but for different reasons, according to the report. Top law firms saw productivity fall 0.6 percent while headcount grew 1.3 percent. The productivity drop was low because of relatively strong demand.

Second hundred firms had a productivity decline of 0.5 percent, largely because they are cutting headcount, which dropped 0.2 percent at those firms in the second quarter.

Midsize firms saw productivity drop 2.9 percent as they suffered from both weak demand and high headcount growth, the report said.

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