Big Law Firms Gain Confidence in 2014’s Third Quarter
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christmas bonuses bigger than last year

Summary: A survey by Citi Private Bank and a report on Biglaw bonuses suggest firms are becoming optimistic.

We’ve seen great news for the economy with more employed than before the 2008 recession and with unemployment at a low; but how are things panning out for the legal sector? Lawyers have persistently had a tough time of it, even when the economy got sunny for the rest. Now, we are finally seeing some light for lawyers too, as there are some indicators things might be better for them, after Citi Private Bank issued a survey released this Tuesday that reported greater optimism in major law firms into the third quarter of 2014.


“Greater confidence in revenue growth, while expense projections remained steady, translated into increased optimism about profit growth,” the report read. “Confidence in demand growth was still strong, though more moderate than in 2Q’14, and despite stronger revenue projections, concern about discounting pressure grew slightly. While associate headcount projections increased, equity partner growth projections were more modest.”

This is why Biglaw firms such as Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, and Clearly Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP discovered last Friday that they’d be getting $15,000 to $100,000 Christmas bonuses to be paid on Dec. 19, a significant leap from last year.

Cavath, Swaine, & Moore LLP, the industry standard setter on bonuses also said as of Monday they’d be paying about the same.

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Though there is still the “pervasive and pernicious issue” of over-capacity, as the Wall Street Journal blog noted, meaning there are more lawyers than work, nevertheless we are seeing that more firms are willing to hire in junior lawyers.

Wells Fargo Private Bank summarized it saying “2014 is shaping into a much better year than previous years,” while noting, nevertheless, that some firms were “substantially outperforming all others.”


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