Monday, January 14, 2013

Law-Firm Partners Face Cuts

Cry Me A River . . .

Law-Firm Partners Face Cuts - ". . . There are a few very major firms that are genuinely and consistently busy," says law-firm consultant Paula Alvary. But many of the country's 200 top-grossing firms have partners who remain comparatively idle, struggling to bill 1,700 hours a year, or even 1,500 hours, Ms. Alvary says. Such excess capacity can be the 900-pound gorilla for law-firm leaders who have to decide what to do about partners whose practices may not rebound. Some have served firms for decades. Others possess substantial expertise that would be hard to replace. "You don't want to tear the fabric of the firm," says Jeff Grossman, national managing director for Wells Fargo's Legal Specialty Group. "But there are only so many hours a law firm is producing, and if you have too many people for the work, those additional individuals are siphoning off profits."For firms with hundreds of lawyers, even a 100-hour or 250-hour drop in the average number of hours billed annually can add up to a substantial hit, says Edward Newberry, managing partner at law firm Patton Boggs LLP. "Rate increases are hard to come by, demand is not increasing," he says. For firms trying to increase profits, "partner productivity is one of the remaining key tools. . . . "

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