The economy is doing better than we expected, and that’s good news for everybody. Well, almost everybody. Law firms seem to still be struggling. Citi Private Bank organized a survey of large and small U.S. law firms’ partners, and found that they themselves are not too confident, and in fact morale is lower than it was last year.
The Citi survey, which was administered in March and April, asked partners to rate their confidence that showed on a 200-point scale how they felt about nine categories, including lawyer hiring, discounting, demand, expenses, revenue, profits, business conditions in the legal profession, the economy at large and overall confidence – as Reuters reported. What the survey found was that partners acknowledged confidence with the economy overall, certainly, but they dropped 20 points in confidence from last quarter 2012 in the area of lawyer hiring, and 14 points in demand. What this pretty much means is that they aren’t getting work.
And that’s more than their perception. Thomas Reuter’s Peer Monitor Index found that the legal services demand fell 3.4 percent in the first quarter this year. Despite the economy doing better, the legal profession is not running parallel; they are doing worse.
That explains why law firms aren’t merging as they do in happier times; only four law firms merged so far this year, compared to eight last year, as the Altman Weil data indicates.