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Setting the next year’s billing rates follows a simple formula at most firms: last year’s rate plus a common percentage increase across all lawyer cohorts. A more disaggregated approach is needed. Specifically, firms should set higher percentage increases for senior lawyers and lower increases for junior lawyers. Why? Because, over the next 10 years, hours leverage (i.e., the number of associate hours per partner hour) at elite law firms will decline as more of the lower value-added work is handled not by junior lawyers but by enhanced technologies, in-house counsel, and alternative service providers. To maintain profitability, the margin that was earned on the displaced junior lawyer time has to be recouped through higher margins on senior lawyer time. Failure to increase senior billing rates differentially, and thus to rebalance the source of margin from junior to senior lawyer time, will result in a calamitous decline in profitability. It can be avoided if firms start now to gradually change their billing rate structures.
By J. Mark Santiago
6 Common Law Firm Accounting Practices That Need to Be Re-evaluated
There are a number of tried and true practices in law firms that need more thinking. Not because law firm managers are stupid; it’s just that some practices need to be periodically re-evaluated and adjusted to reflect the changing times.
By Julie Savarino
Part One of a Two-Part Article
For a variety of reasons, many law firms and lawyers struggle to effectively cross-sell or cross-service. This article defines the specific and best actions lawyers and law firms can take to expand client relationships.
By Peter A. Johnson
What Lawyers Can Learn From Dentists
Nobody enjoys visiting the dentist, but everybody knows you still must pay him or her on the day of service. Attorneys, however, have historically let the client lead the payment dance. Lawyers do the work and hope/expect to be paid without waiting too long or discounting the invoice too steeply. What can we do differently?
By Marcus Dyer
As law firms endeavor to survive in an increasingly competitive world, one strategy picking up steam is the law firm merger. In this article, we recap law firm merger activity in 2018 and consider the economic outlook for law firm mergers for 2019.