With this year more than halfway done, let’s look in the rear-view mirror and survey managing partners’ confidence in the legal industry during the second quarter of 2014. Wall Street investors seem generally optimistic, at least based on the state of the stock market (despite today’s turbulence). Are law firm leaders similarly hopeful?

Survey says — well, nothing terribly exciting, but let’s have a look anyway….

Here are the key findings from the survey:

  • Overall confidence: Managing partners’ overall confidence slipped by a single point, from 115 to 114 (on a 200-point scale, with a score of 100 as neutral). Nothing to write home about.
  • Economy at large: Their confidence in the economy at large dropped by four points, from 123 to 119. Does this spell bad news? Let’s hope they’re wrong.
  • Business conditions – legal profession: This barely budged, dipping from 114 to 113.
  • Profit index: Up two points, to 103. According to Gretta Rusanow, senior client adviser at Citibank, this was driven mainly by controlling expenses rather than growing revenues — not surprising in this age of staff layoffs and stealth layoffs of associates.
  • Demand index: Flat at 138. Welcome to the not-so-new normal.
  • Discounting: This dipped from 81 to 79, meaning that more firms are doing it. Thirty-seven percent of respondents reported “modestly increasing” discounting and 3 percent reported “sustantially increasing” discounting.
  • Lawyer hiring indices: As noted by Am Law, “[e]xpectations of head-count growth for full-time equivalent equity partners represented a bright spot in the survey, with a significant increase of 12 points in the confidence index to 112.” The picture is less rosy for the hiring of associates, where the index dipped by a point, from 132 to 131.

And that’s all she wrote. Not very exciting — but boring is better than the exciting times of the Great Recession, so we’ll take it.

Confidence in Legal Industry Mixed Among Firm Leaders [Am Law Daily]

Earlier: Managing Partners More Confident In Market — Not Intended As An April Fools’ Joke


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