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According to recent reports, 2018 was a great year for law firms. Net income, profits per partner, rate growth, demand, and productivity all increased.
The actual percentages of each metric above may not have reached record highs, but as the ABA Journal notes, this may be the best year for many firms in a decade. In one survey, it was reported that 61 percent of firms saw an increase in demand, year over year, and over 70 percent had increased profits per partner.
Notably, much of the growth and what made last year so good can be attributed to the top 50 firms in the Am Law 200. Surveyed firms in the "second hundred" experienced a decline in demand. Additionally, these second hundred firms fared worse than small niche practices, which reported a steady increase in demand and revenue of growth of more than 5%.
One of the problems facing these firms is an increase in operation costs, as well as decreased productivity and increased partner retirements.
Those in the know predict that 2019 will continue on the same upward trend for the niche practices and Am Law 50. Also, many of those "second hundred" firm may find their way into the top hundred if they keep up their growth, as 15% of those firms did actually see 5% or more growth in 2018.
If you don't regularly look back over your firm's performance at the end of the year, you might want to start. Unless you're tracking certain metrics, you might never realize where you're wasting money, time, and resources. And wasting any of those three leads to less money in your pocket and the pockets of the other members of your firm, not to mention, increased client costs. However, what metrics you need to track will depend largely on what type of practice you run, how many partners, associates, and staff are on board, and several other factors.
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