“It is encouraging to note that we have seen a return to stability in the legal market.”

That’s the conclusion of the 2019 Peer Monitor Midyear Report, noting that demand for legal services was modestly higher in the first half of 2019, while rates grew at some of the highest levels seen this decade.

Much of the growth has been driven by a resurgence in demand for litigation, which saw demand grow in six of the past seven quarters after not experiencing a positive quarter in more than five years prior to that. With litigation representing the single largest practice area tracked by Peer Monitor, the improving fortunes enjoyed by litigation practices for the past year and half have certainly contributed to the stronger market performance for law firms across the spectrum. Meanwhile, demand for corporate work has also been stronger, along with real estate and labor & employment.

At the same time, areas of concern remain.  Stronger demand this year has not translated into higher levels of productivity for the average firm, due in large part to law firm hiring trends. Similarly, expenses continue to grow. In particular, direct expenses are being driven the growth in associate salaries.

The report concludes that there is reason for “cautious optimism.” Looking at the market a decade past the Great Recession,  the evidence points to overall stability, with opportunities for growth for any law firm positioned to capitalize on them.