Associate profitability could be the most important management issue for many - maybe even most - law firms over the next three to five years. One of the central features of law firms that have managed to increase profits against declining fee revenues has been a serious inquiry into the profitability of the ways in which associates prepare and deliver legal work for clients. These firms understand that the better response to hard times is usually to improve the productivity of fee earners, rather than to get short-term savings by slashing payroll.
Looking ahead to the economic challenges that will continue to confront the traditional law firm, there are three questions that every firm should ask:
Associate profitability is a partner problem. Blaming and admonishing associates will not solve it. Only law firm partners can lead the associates to being more productive, more efficient, and more profitable in their work.
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