A new report says that many lawyers are not busy enough to meet targets set by their firms.
The Altman Weil Law Firms in Transition survey of firms in the US found that 51% say equity partners are not busy enough and 49% of firms failed to meet their billable hours targets in 2017.
There are some chronically under-performing lawyers in 83% of the firms surveyed (all of which had at least 50 lawyers).
While 45% of law firms report their revenue per lawyer (RPL) was up in each of the last three years, 44% said their RPL was both up and down over the same period. This was more prevalent in firms with fewer than 250 lawyers.
The survey also found that competition is rising with 70% of law firms losing work to in-house legal departments; 16% to alternative legal service providers; 9% to the Big Four accounting firms.
While 50% of firms said that they are not distinctive enough, 59% said they are not feeling enough economic pain to make significant changes to how their deliver services.
“Most law firms measure their success in annual increments, but that kind of short-term thinking can create a false sense of security,” says Altman Weil principal and survey co-author Eric Seeger. “Few law firms have a long-term, market-based strategy, or recognize that by proactively embracing new methodologies and technologies they will create the differentiators they need to compete effectively going forward.”
Good news, bad news for global law firm
Linklaters says that it has received approval for its joint operations in Shanghai with its long-term best friend Zhao Sheng Law Firm.
The long-awaited green light for the venture means that the global firm can add RPC law capability to its offering for clients and provide something new for the China legal market.
“Market shifts indicate that outbound work and high-end domestic transactions will become ever more important for our business. The Joint Operations will help us to protect our competitive advantage both in China and globally,” enthused Linklaters head of China, William Liu.
However, the week has not all been good news for Linklaters.
A new report from a UK House of Commons committee specifically criticises the firm for refusing to cooperate with a probe into Russian corruption.
The Law Society Gazette reports that the firm acted for Russian energy firm En+ Group when it listed on the London Stock Exchange last year.
The report goes as far as to suggest that Linklaters are unable to meet the standards of a UK regulated law firm because it is “entwined in the corruption of the Kremlin.”
The firm issued a statement to the Gazette rejecting the suggestion and highlighting that even where law firms sometimes operate in jurisdictions where there is corruption it does not automatically follow that they are party to it. The firm says it adheres to the highest standards.
Dentons partners approve Hawaii combination
The partnership of Dentons has approved the firm’s combination with affiliate firm Alston Hunt Floyd & Ing (AHFI) in Hawaii.
The move strengthens Dentons’ presence a key gateway between the US and Asia Pacific.
“Not only are we reinforcing our formidable standing as the leading law firm across the Pacific, we have added significant talent to our already deep bench with this affiliation,” said Jeff Haidet, US Chairman of Dentons. “Many of our clients, especially in the banking, insurance, government contracts, health care, hotels and leisure, and real estate areas have already benefited from our work together.”