Citi Private Bank reports in The American Lawyer that the first half of 2018 was better financially, in particular for small- and large-sized law firms, than was the first half of 2017. In fact, overall revenue growth across the industry in the U.S. contributed to the strongest first half since 2007.

Citi Private Bank’s Law Firm Group, which produces the semi-annual “Law Firm Leaders Confidence Index,” surveyed 186 small-, medium- and large-sized law firms; they concluded that 2018’s first-half growth could be attributed to “a pickup in demand and solid rate increases, together with moderate expense growth…”.

In their article for The American Lawyer,  John Wilmouth and Gretta Rusanow of Citi Private Bank indicated that the positive trend is likely to continue at least through the balance of the year. They point out, however, that the positive results apply primarily to international or global firms and small boutique or niche firms, rather than to those closer to the middle.

“[AmLaw] Second Hundred firms continued to struggle,” they write, “as they have since the beginning of last year. Revenue was up only 1.3 percent, as a decline in demand tempered an increase in lawyer billing rates. …  [T] his was the only segment for which expense growth exceeded revenue growth.” Boutique or niche firms, by contrast, “actually posted slightly stronger revenue growth (6.9 percent) than Am Law 50 firms.”

The report offers an intriguing look into details of trends in various areas of law-firm operation, including consumer demand, length of collection cycle, number of lawyers, number of salaried vs. equity partners, expense growth and inventory, as well as financial data.

I would be very interested to hear your comments on the Citi Private Bank study – or any other matter relating to the law. Leave your comments below, or contact me directly via email.