Law Firms See New #1 Issue Affecting Business Competition

2nd Annual Benchmark Survey Results Show Significant Changes

NEW YORK CITY—Cushman & Wakefield’s Legal Sector Advisory Group (LSAG) today released the results of its second National Legal Sector Benchmark Survey. Among its key findings, and in stark contrast to last year’s results, is a 17% increase in respondents who believe that traditional partnership structures will be completely reorganized. In addition, competitive fee structures overtook recruitment and retention as the number one issue affecting business competition– a notable shift in perception from last year’s survey.

“The legal sector is quickly coming to terms with the changing workplace environment. Finding and keeping talent is the priority, and the way law firms are structured and organized is changing,” said Sherry Cushman, Executive Managing Director and Head of Cushman & Wakefield’s LSAG. “This survey is an outgrowth of our client-only commitment to fully understand the niche requirements and key drivers affecting the legal sector —now and in the future.”

The survey of more than 400 decision-making representatives of law firms across the globe—from boutique to Am Law 100 mega-firms—provides key insights, statistics and trends about the business, financial and operational drivers affecting the legal sector. The survey was conducted in partnership with ALM Legal Intelligence.

image007Additional highlights include:

  • 12% of firms that negotiated a relocation of their lease in the past year relocated into a smaller envelope of space, while only 4% increased in size.
  • 70% of firms responded that they did not experience a merger in the past five years.
  • Only 15% of respondents had profit increases above 11%; the majority (33%) saw an increase between 1% and 5%.
  • Continued decline in the percentage of gross revenue spent on real estate.

According to Mark McGranahan, Vice Chairman & Managing Broker of Cushman & Wakefield, San Francisco: “ The trends in the survey are accentuated in San Francisco given the strength of the office market where rents are now over $65/psf.  While many firms want a presence in San Francisco to participate in the fast growing economy, all are doing more with less and trying to reduce their footprints to maintain cost control.”

As an outgrowth of last year’s round of symposium events in 26 cities with over 250 law firms participating, C&W’s LSAG developed its first-ever National Associate Survey; which polled a broad demographic of more than 200 young lawyers from U.S. firms of varied sizes. A collective analysis of their confidentially-submitted responses provides statistics and trending data about the priorities of today’s associates and how the next generation of attorneys view the future of the industry.

Highlights from the National Associate Survey include:

  • Three top reasons an associate initially joined a firm: reputation, areas of practice and compensation. Work/life balance was ranked as #1 among the top ten personal job-related considerations.
  • 54.7% of associate respondents stated that their ten-year career goals were to make partner at their current or alternative firm, while 18% responded that their ten-year career goals were “unknown.”

image006The LSAG kicks-off its 2015 symposium series of events in 26 cities throughout the U.S. beginning with two events in New York on January 23rd, and continues through July of this year. The invitation-only events will again host clients and members of the legal industry to share the results of both 2014 surveys and gather industry experts insights into current legal sector issues and future trends related to the future of the industry.

To encourage candid responses and ensure the integrity the survey results, these symposium events are closed to the media; however, reporters are welcomed and encouraged to interview Ms. Cushman immediately preceding and following each session.

The LSAG’s 2015 symposium tour schedule is attached, and a professional bio for Ms. Cushman is available here.

About Cushman & Wakefield
Cushman & Wakefield advises and represents clients on all aspects of property occupancy and investment. Founded in 1917, it has 250 offices in 60 countries, employing more than 16,000 professionals. It offers a complete range of services to its occupier and investor clients for all property types, including leasing, sales and acquisitions, equity, debt and structured finance, corporate finance and investment banking, appraisal, consulting, corporate services, and property, facilities, project and risk management.

About the Legal Sector Advisory Group (LSAG)
The LSAG is composed of over 200 real estate advisors from across the country that specialize in creating and implementing real estate solutions that support law firms and related businesses. The members of the LSAG provide viable, scalable and successful real estate solutions that support a firm’s business and places them in the most competitive market position.

About ALM Legal Intelligence
ALM Legal Intelligence offers detailed business information and competitive intelligence about the legal industry to top U.S. and international law firms and their clients, including The Am Law 100 and 200. ALM Legal Intelligence Online, ALMlegalintel.com, is an integrated, online database of industry leading surveys and more.

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