United States

Law firm look-back and outlook


RSM US LLP’s national business and professional services practice leader, Barry Rosenthal, shares his insights in a Q&A format on what law firms could experience in key practice trends, challenges and opportunities for 2016. Download the full article to learn more. The following is an excerpt.

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What are some major risk areas and opportunities for law firms and what should firms be concerned with for 2016?

While the good news is the economy is on an upturn, bankruptcy work has declined and with that, litigation, the core service of many established law firms, has regressed as well. Litigation practice work has gone down nearly 25 percent over the last few years. However, on a promising note, mergers and acquisitions work has soared. This has boosted work with private equity groups and in real estate. In addition, intellectual property work continues to grow in connection with the technology and life sciences industries. The key to firm growth is being mindful of those industries and practice areas that can remain consistent in a volatile economy.

Another risk area we’ve seen relates to the number of lawyers unemployed presently. In 2008, when firms had to downsize, they cut down on their staffs and attorneys. When the economy improved, firms saw they could continue to do the work without the added staff, associates and partners. Currently, the market is seeing an excess of lawyers and recently graduated law students unable to find work. The trend we may see is firms could hire contract lawyers for specific projects or time periods, avoiding the expense and commitment to large annual salaries and benefits packages.


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Barry Rosenthal
National Practice Leader