News & Events

Back in the US of A

After two weeks of touring four cities, interviews with 25 law firm chairmen and three media briefings, I am finally back in London and reflecting on the trip.

For a journalist and researcher, it is a gift to be able to interview so many senior law firm leaders in such a short space of time. It gives a snapshot as to the current state of the US legal market.

In the main, law firms were far more upbeat than this time last year, with a handful of transactional NY firms saying that fee levels had returned to normal. The majority were more cautious and felt that there was a new paradigm of pressures: the need to be more efficient and to show value. One of the hot topics was the idea of project management with the discussion centring around whether it’s worth teaching lawyers to be project managers or whether it is simply easier – and more effective – to hire in the expertise.

Nearly all the firms put their recoveries down to a slew of work emerging from the energy and tech industries, with a few enjoying the boom in healthcare issues. Emerging markets also are also providing a seemingly endless supply of work.

The 2011 US report will have two new important sections for law firms: one on the business of law and an index of the most innovative law firms in the US. In terms of the legal expertise categories, we can confirm that the corporate section will be broken down into three sub sections which will include general corporate, energy and technology.