Now in its tenth year, and with half of U.S. law firms with 50 or more attorneys responding, the annual survey conducted and produced by Altman Weil has become a predictive piece providing insight on law firm strategy. The results sport the opinions of law firm leaders throughout the survey.

...59% of law firms are not feeling enough economic pain to meet more substantive change.

The survey reports that 69% of law firms and partners resist most change efforts. And it states that 59% of law firms are not feeling enough economic pain to meet more substantive change. However, there is a long-term threat to this inertia which should not be ignored. The survey's authors state:

"We believe that even though the future is unclear, there are some fundamental truths that must be acknowledged:

1. Law firms are no longer operating in a closed system in which virtually all legal service providers play by the same rules.

There are outside players with outside money and a commercial mindset who are offering viable legal service alternatives to clients. They are established; they are growing; and they are not going away.

2. New, smart technology is a pervasive force for change that extends into every facet of our lives. It is a force that is literally changing everything – at a staggering pace – and the legal market will not be immune.

3. Change moves in only one direction. There is no going back."

With more demands from clients, law firms must provide better efficiencies, more predictability in fees, greater innovation and increased transparency.

This long-term threat of law firms' inability to create sustainability should not be ignored if firms want to grow and thrive in the future. Clients want outside attorneys to pay more attention to their corporate culture, needs and goals.

Changes in technologies, artificial intelligence, and pressure to adopt legal operations are supporting reasons that firms must change.

The full Altman Weil Report can be found here.


[Merry Neitlich is managing partner of EM Consultants located in Irvine, CA. She can be reached at or 949-260- 0936.]