Some law firms have been able to notably outperform their peers even though the overall large law firm market is experiencing flat to little growth. A new report from the Thomson Reuters Legal Executive Institute suggests that investments in areas such as business development, marketing and technology may be a key factor defining the higher-performing firms.

The 2017 State of the Legal Market Mid-Year Report identified a population of firms with market-leading growth in overall profits, revenue per lawyer and profit margin, using Peer Monitor data from 165 U.S.-based large law firms. The population of higher-performing firms also had above-average growth in demand and fees worked.

The highest-performing quartile of firms increased their marketing and business development expenses by an average of 4.6 percent last year, compared with only 1.8 percent for the lowest-performing quartile. Similarly, higher-performing firms grew their per-lawyer investment in technology by 3.2 percent, while the lowest-performing firms grew technology spending by only 1.2 percent.

Technology spend