Survey shows firm revenues on upswing

ALM Legal Intelligence recently published its annual Survey of Law Firm Economics, which found that average revenues at U.S. law firms rebounded last year with a modest 1.15 percent increase nationwide.

In 2012, law firm revenue per lawyer (RPL) inched up to $437,000, a slight increase from RPL of $432,000 in 2011, but still well below the record RPL of $451,000 recorded back in 2010.

The survey results were reported in today’s issue of The National Law Journal, which is accessible at www.nlj.com. The survey was conducted by ALM Legal Intelligence, in association with The National Law Journal, and is available online now at http://almlegalintel.com/Surveys/SLFE.

“This year’s survey benchmarks two diverging trends we’ve seen for a while now involving the law firms on opposite ends of the spectrum in the U.S.,” said Kevin Iredell, vice president of ALM Legal Intelligence. “The largest firms grew significantly last year, with a strong 9 percent increase in RPL for the firms with 150 lawyers or

more. Meanwhile, the smallest firms continued to face revenue challenges, with a sharp 8 percent decline in RPL for the firms with fewer than 10 lawyers.”

The survey found that average compensation for individual lawyers in the U.S. grew from $292,000 in 2011 to $296,000 in 2012, a 1.5 percent increase in pay.
Other noteworthy findings of the survey included the following:

—  Mergers are back on the table — more firms are either actively seeking or open to merger discussions than the previous year (47 percent in 2013 vs. 42 percent in the 2012 survey);

— Cautious optimism for growth — optimism for profits per partner is growing, with 21 percent of firms expecting their profits per partner to grow by more than 5 percent in 2013, vs. 17 percent one year ago;

— Alternative fee arrangements (AFAs) not taking off — for the vast majority of U.S. law firms, AFAs still represent a small percentage of billings, which has not changed significantly in each of the past four years; and

— Deleveraging continues — the associate to partner ratio fell again last year, from .54 in 2011 to .49 last year.

ALM Legal Intelligence, in collaboration with the Association of Legal Administrators (ALA), also released the results of ALA’s 2013 Compensation and Benefits Survey, which found that average total compensation for principal administrators at U.S. and Canadian law firms grew 16.4 percent from a year ago.

In addition to the principal administrator position, compensation in all but one law firm and legal department management position — such as office manager, finance director, human resources director and marketing director — increased in 2013, according to the survey.

ALA provides support to professionals involved in the management of law firms, corporate legal departments and government legal agencies. The association partners with ALM Legal Intelligence for the production of its annual Compensation & Benefits Survey.

The survey found the following average compensation data in 2013 among key administrative personnel at law firms and legal departments:

Principal Administrator: up 16.4% from 2012

  Administrative/Office Manager: up 16.2%

Office Services Manager/Facilities Manager: up 5.0%

Human Resources Director/Manager: up 2.0%

Marketing Director/Manager: up 8.0%

Director/Manager of Library Services: up 5.9%

Finance Director/Controller: up 6.2%

Director/Manager of Information Technology: up 5.9%

  Litigation Support Manager: up 9.2%

Legal Assistant Manager/Supervisor: up 3.4%

The complete survey is available online now at http://almlegalintel.com/Surveys/ALA.

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