Feedback from the Forums

In the last week, Mattern & Associates has been fortunate to have been a sponsor of the 2nd Annual CFO/CIO/COO Forum hosted by West LegalEdcenter and the PwC Law Firm Services Global Forum. Both forums took place in New York City–the CFO/CIO/COO last Wednesday at the stately New York City Bar Association on 44th and PwC in its impressive accommodations on Madison and 42nd.

Both forums were well-attended with engaging agendas addressing what is going on in the legal marketplace and the applicable hot topics:  AFAs (alternative fee agreements), business process outsourcing, project management and the long term nature of cyber security threats.

Most importantly, both forums addressed the financial status of the legal industry. In summary, here is what they reported:

  • Revenue per Attorney increased – part of this increase is attributed to the smaller number of attorneys.
  • Rate discounting is at the highest level ever which means that law firms are fighting over the same business and that the legal market pie is not increasing.
  • Rate pressure is here to stay, and there will be more emphasis on AFAs in the future.
  • Expense cutting has leveled off for now with firms being forced to get creative and cut deeper on future cuts.

A mixed bag to say the least.  Potentially not the roaring comeback that people had hoped for, but certainly also not the dismal outlook of 2009/2010.

The one thing that almost all speakers stressed is that for the proactive, well-managed firm there are opportunities especially from creating good data, on all fronts, and the push towards transparency and communication of that data.  This not a bad message to hear.