Alternative fee arrangements, cutting costs and keeping “the right” talent were at the top of the list for more than two dozen clients who attended the Executive Level Briefing earlier today at the 2011 Elite User Conference.

Mark Medice, program head for Peer Monitor from Hildebrandt Baker Robbins, started off the session with an intriguing look at how the recent recession has impacted the legal industry. It’s no surprise to anyone that law firm revenue and demand have taken a hit in recent years. The degree of impact has varied for individual firms, but the numbers show that most firms were able to sustain themselves by significantly cutting costs.

Recently, we’ve begun to see law firm financial metrics start to improve, but in many cases they are still far below the pre-recession numbers. Mark also points out that law firms now have reached a point where they have cut all of the obvious costs, and now need to dig deeper to find ways to work more efficiently.

“For example, it’s not just about eliminating the chairs in the conference room,” Mark says, “it’s about evaluating whether or not there is even a need for the actual room.”

And what will law firms be looking at? Mark predicts that it will settle around three P’s– pricing, process improvement and project management. With that will come an increase in fixed fee and alternative billing arrangements as well as an added focus on project management training.

The bottom line is that no one really knows exactly how law firms will operate in 5, 10 or 15 years but it’s clear that as clients continue to become more savvy and demand more from the law firms they partner with, it won’t be business as usual.

Check out the video below to hear more thoughts from Mark or visit the Peer Monitor website.

What do you think? Comment on this blog post or tweet on the hashtag #EliteUC and let us know where you think law firms are headed in the future?

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