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"A crisis is a terrible thing to waste," says Joel Henning, a legal industry consultant at Hildebrandt International. "While the legal profession generally moves with glacial slowness, this particular crisis may provide necessary traction to achieve significant change. There has been lip service for decades, but this time we may see some results."
That's not to suggest that law firm size is irrelevant in this market. Whether they are making changes or not, one market segment is outperforming all others these days.
If any aspect of the client relationship is ripe for an overhaul, it's the billing model.
According to a study by the Association for Legal Career Professionals, the average starting salary for associates at large firms in New York was $85,000 in 1996. By 2007 it was $160,000.
Only time will tell if the adjustments firms are making
are permanent changes or just cyclical necessities. BTI's research suggests that many firms are starting to treat their businesses as, well, businesses.