Law firm revenues for small firms are up. Revenues for smaller firms are down. That’s the long and short of it as revealed by the Survey of Law Firm Economics undertaken by the National Law Journal and ALM, showing a small improvement in the profits-per-lawyer figure – up by 0.3 per cent, which bettered the 2011 decline of 4.2 per cent.
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Overall, per-lawyer revenue inched up by 1.1 percent at law firms of all sizes during 2012 — welcome news compared with 2011, when it sank by 4.3 percent.
A 2.6 percent increase in expenses per lawyer in 2012 contributed to the basically flat profits number, compared with a decrease in expenses by 4.4 percent during 2011.
Compensation for all attorneys rose by 1.5 percent in 2012 to an average of $296,010. Senior partners made $351,290 while midlevel partners pulled in $194,036. Midlevel associates’ compensation was $133,193, on average.
The survey results indicate a “recovering economy that is tolerating some rate increases,” law firm consultant Peter Zeughauser said. Large law firms have become “more tightly managed,” partly through layoffs of underperforming attorneys, he added.
Overall, the average hourly billing rate in 2012 for partners was $369, up by 4 percent. The average hourly rate for associates was $242, up by 4 percent as well.