I’m a little surprised that firms appear to be willing to make an investment and carry underutilized lawyers for a little while longer. It’s been relatively quiet.
— Owen Burman, managing director of the Wells Fargo Legal Specialty Group, in comments given to Reuters on the state of Biglaw’s workforce, which is currently in a state of overcapacity, in the wake of both a drop in demand for legal services and lawyer productivity. According to Wells Fargo’s year-end survey, the average firm saw productivity fall 6.1% to 1,568 billable hours per lawyer. “We have some history going back quite a while on this, and we’ve never seen data for the Am Law 100 being less than 1,600 hours,” Burman told the American Lawyer. “With low utilization and excess capacity entering this year, and not a lot of real positives on demand expectations, we’d expect to see more rationalization if we don’t see more positives on the economic front at the end of the first quarter.” Thus far, just three firms have conducted outright layoffs: Cooley, Goodwin, and Stroock.
Staci Zaretsky is a senior editor at Above the Law, where she’s worked since 2011. She’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to email her with any tips, questions, comments, or critiques. You can follow her on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.
Leave a Reply