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Law Firm Leaders Think It’s About Time To Completely Freak Out

The U.S. economy brought to you by Thanos of Titan.

Kent Brockman: Professor, without knowing precisely what the danger is, would you say it’s time for our viewers to crack each other’s heads open and feast on the goo inside?
Professor: Yes I would, Kent.

In the above passage from The Simpsons, feel free to replace beloved Channel 6 anchor Kent Brockman with “Citi Private Bank Law Firm Group” and the professor with “the leaders of the major law firms.” It’s that time of year for Citi Private Bank to release the results of its law firm management confidence survey. Last year, like most years, confidence levels were thoroughly middling, with management fairly confident that the economy would putter meekly forward. Lawyers aren’t known for unbridled optimism, but this year’s results, even judging on an attorney’s curve, are a lot more gloomy.

From the executive summary of the Law Firm Confidence Index, we see that “confidence in the US economy dipped significantly below neutral, while projections for global economic growth continued to dip even further.” Law firms continue to see demand improvements, though expectations were moderated. But law firm demand usually enjoys a slight uptick when the bottom falls out of the economy so that’s not exactly encouraging.

They are also less optimistic that pricing pressure will abate and expect a deceleration in revenue and net income growth. Despite a more modest outlook for the first half of 2020, law firm leaders plan to accelerate headcount growth.

Revenue down… headcount up. At least until the mad dash to cover bankruptcies and emergency mergers starts to die down and the firm is left to consider exactly how many of these heads they want to keep counting every day. There could be some bumpy times ahead folks.

Earlier: Law Firm Leaders Are Completely Confident That They Don’t Have Much Confidence


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HeadshotJoe Patrice is a senior editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe also serves as a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.

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