Law Firms Predict a Better Year in 2014

Law Firms Predict a Better Year in 2014

jacob-gershman-wsj-lawfuelJacob Gershman of the Wall Street Journal Law Blog thinks there are better times ahead for law firms in 2014
Law firms think the economy is healing and predict revenue gains next year, ending a gloomy year with a more positive outlook for 2014, according to a new survey of law firm managing partners.

Citi Private Bank just issued its Managing Partner Confidence Index, a survey of managing partners at 71 law firms, for the fourth quarter of 2013.

Here are some of the highlights: The overall confidence index is up 6 points from last quarter (on a scale of 1 to 200) but is still lower than a year ago. Confidence levels in the U.S. economy followed the same pattern.

Revenue forecasts are also brightening for the first time in months. About half of respondents expect growth below 5%, and more than a third are projecting gains exceeding 5%. The profit index also showed improvement. About three-quarters of the partners predicted growth in that area. And about two-thirds projected increases in demand, compared to 48% versus the previous quarter.

Amid the optimism, the partners said they were still facing steep discounting pressure and a slight increase in expenses.

The hiring indices showed mixed signs. Growth in equity partner headcount is projected to slow slightly. Respondents were more optimistic about growth in associates, with 56% of managing partners predicting increases. They also expected bring on board more non-associates.

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