The legal industry has changed dramatically in the years since the beginning of the Great Recession, and is now driven by market forces like hyper-competition, technological innovation and slower demand for legal services. These forces continue to push change on the industry, forging it into something very different from what it was less than a decade ago.

That was the theme of a panel at the 2015 Law Firm Leaders Forum, in which Michael Abbott, Vice President of Client Management & Thought Leadership at Thomson Reuters presented a report entitled, 2015 and Beyond: Responding to a Hyper-Competitive Market. The data presented will frame the legal industry’s composition now, and emphasizes how competitive it has become even as demand struggles at lower levels than before the recession. The report w compiled from Peer Monitor’s data on AmLaw 100, Second 100 and MidSize law firms and Citi Private Bank Law Firm Group’s 2015 Law Firm Leaders Survey and Dispersion Study.

The report analyzes that change, especially hyper-competition which is now coming from traditional competitors, lower cost alternative legal service providers, and law firms from other segments. These new competitors and non-traditional market players are increasingly competing on price and attempt to buy growth and market share by luring talent from traditional firms.

Following Abbott’s presentation, a panel made up of Paul W. Theiss, Chairman of Mayer Brown LLP, and J. Henry Walker IV, Chairman of Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP, Bradford W. Hildebrandt, Chairman of Hildebrandt Consulting LLC, continued the discussion of the market’s competitiveness and recent performance.

Abbott explained that using survey data gathered from law firms’ managing partners themselves, several forces are injecting the new hyper-competitiveness into the marketplace, such as technological innovations and clients’ pursuit of lower fees and better service.


At the same time, factors such as a still fragile global economic recovery and changes in how and from whom clients purchase legal services, have slowed demand for legal services. While demand for large law firm services has been positive for the past six quarters, the growth rate during that time has been averaging only about one-and-a-half percent.


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