Predictions for the Legal Profession in 2011

predict the future, lawmarketing blog, crystal ballI was surprised how wrong the predictions were for an economic recovery in the legal profession in 2010. Instead we got the dismal "new normal" with layoffs, indebted law grads without jobs, cost-cutting, and gloomy expectations from managing partners.

"We believe the worst is over," said Dan Dipietro of Citi Private Bank on March 3, 2010.  Man was he wrong!

The National Bureau of Economic Research said the recession ended in June 2009, but nobody believed it. The only lawyers doing well were handling foreclosures, divorces and bankruptcies.

For 2011, economists (see predict more competition, pressure on fees, fewer partner-track associates positions, more non-equity service partners, fewer salaried and more temp positions, and more legal work outsourced overseas.


On the bright side:

  • M&A activity is expected to jump 36% in 2011 (see
  • Demand for legal services will also increase in healthcare, intellectual property, bankruptcy, corporate and security litigation, antitrust law, and environmental law (see
  • Lawyers and paralegals with at least four years experience will be needed at midsize law firms, see Law firms are looking for workers that will bring clients with them.
  • CRM (client relationship management systems) will have to incorporate LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook information.
  • Law firms will realize they can’t cost-cut their way to profit, and will seriously start training lawyers to do business development to increase the financial top line.
  • “Innovate or die” will be the watchword for law firms, and they will offer new ways to offer new business services and value billing.
  • Law firms will stop upgrading software and use SaaS offerings and cloud computing.

As for the rest, we'll see.

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Jerome Kowalski - January 2, 2011 11:48 AM

What I feel too many perceived was that the modern law firm, the law firm of the Twenty First Century is brand new model, the countours of which are still emerging. Prior predictions (as Yogi Berra said, it's hard to predict the future because it hasn't happened yet) fail to recognize this new reality.

Cole - January 5, 2011 8:06 AM


Always great stuff coming from your blog.

Here's an off the wall prediction.

1. With budget issues, and a Republican House, some folks will be hard pressing on more tort reform and "Loser Pays" legislation as business groups do an all out assault on litigation, especially since eDiscovery increased the costs.

2. More consolidation of law firms.

3. Attorneys who have multiple skill sets in finance, project management, and compliance will flourish.

4. More firms will adopt the "corporate" business model.

5. Marketing will make a strong comeback for as you said, Law firms will realize they can’t cost-cut their way to profitability.

Just my 2 cents.

Lisa Daniel - March 4, 2011 3:26 PM

Until the better law firms understand that all cash strapped litigants are not bums, and make arrangements to defend legitimate cases on some kind of payment plan, more pro se cases and non selective litigation issues will thrive.

We all wonder (at least I do) how the profession got the reputation for being sleezy, heartless, money hungry, overcharging, unethical dirt bags. When a client who has already paid over $400,000 in legal fees for a relatively minor case is dumped by their firm for non-payment a month before trial we should understand the lables and correct them.

Good blog, I enjoy it.

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