Second annual legal sector survey shows significant changes in issues

NEW YORK CITY—Cushman & Wakefield’s Legal Sector Advisory Group (LSAG) today released the results of its second National Legal Sector Benchmark Survey. Among its key findings, and in stark contrast to last year’s results, is a 17% increase in respondents who believe that traditional partnership structures will be completely reorganized. In addition, competitive fee structures overtook recruitment and retention asthe number one issue affecting business competition-- a notable shift in perception fromlast year’s survey.

“The legal sector is quickly coming to terms with the changing workplace environment. Finding and keeping talent is the priority, and the way law firms are structured and organized is changing,” said Sherry Cushman, Executive Managing Director and Head of Cushman & Wakefield's LSAG. “This survey is an outgrowth of our client-only commitment to fully understand the niche requirements and key drivers affecting the legal sector —now and in the future.”

The survey of more than 400

decision-making representatives of law firms across the globe—from boutique to Am Law 100 mega-firms—provides key insights, statistics and trends about the business, financial and operational drivers affecting the legal sector. The survey was conducted in partnership with ALM Legal Intelligence.

Additional highlights include:

 —12% of firms that negotiated a relocation of their lease in the past year relocated into a smaller envelope, while only 4% increased in size.

—70% of firms responded that they did not experience a merger in the past five years.

—Only 15% of respondents had profit increases above 11%; the majority (33%) saw an increase between 1% and 5%.

—Continued decline in the percentage of gross revenue spent on real estate.

As an outgrowth of last year’s round of symposium events in 26 cities with over 250 law firms participating, C&W’s LSAG developed its first-ever National Associate Survey;
which polled a broad demographic of more than 200 young lawyers from U.S. firms of varied sizes. A collective analysis of their confidentially-submitted responses provides statistics and trending data about the priorities of today’s associates and how the next generation of attorneys view the future of the industry.

Highlights from that survey include:

—Three top reasons an associate initially joined a firm: reputation, areas of practice and compensation. Work/life balance was ranked as #1 among the top ten personal job-related considerations.

—54.7% of associate respondents stated that their ten-year career goals were to make partner at their current or alternative firm, while 18% responded that their ten-year career goals were “unknown.”