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Law Firms Pulling in Good Money This Year

By William Vogeler, Esq. on December 14, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

It's been a good year for law firms, with revenues topping off at their highest in a decade.

According to financial reports, lawyers can thank higher billing rates and increased demand for legal services. One bank said overall law firm revenue grew 7 percent, and another reported about 6.3 percent.

Wells Fargo looked at the biggest 200 law firms in America, and Citi included niche firms that were not in the top tier. Across the board, it looked good.

BigLaw 50

Wells Fargo Private Bank said the BigLaw 50 did the best, increasing revenue by 8.2 percent over the last reporting period. Firms ranked 50 to 100 grew by 5.7 percent, and firms in the 101 to 200 club saw a 2.3 percent increase.

Outside the top 200, Citi Private Bank said, demand grew an average of 2.5 percent for niche firms. Firms with "strong reputations and differentiated brands are being favored in the market, regardless of their size," Citi said in a press release.

In context, the New York Law Journal said law firms are enjoying the "best year since the recession." The paper predicted 2018 will set a post-recession record for revenue growth.

Of course, there is another side to every story. And even during the holidays, not everybody believes the Christmas story.

Collections Slowing

Citi said law firms are taking longer to collect, and their costs increased by 5.9 percent in the first three quarters. They also reported "accelerated" equity partner retirements, more non-equity partners, and salary increases for associates.

"Other 'expense pressure points' are technology upgrades, cybersecurity measures, professional staff and real estate investments," the ABA Journal reported.

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