Facts & Figures: Law firm managing partners predict revenue growth

From climbing settlement amounts to the risks of paper contracts, an inside look at the numbers that count

Paper Problems

The push toward digital is continuing throughout corporate America, but not all companies have made the switch from paper to a new medium, according to a new survey of U.S. managers conducted by Edelman Berland on behalf of Adobe Systems Inc. Survey participants pointed to various cons of using paper, reporting that it can complicate workflows, take up valuable office space and negatively impact the environment.

But despite the fact that almost three-quarters of survey respondents said that their life would be easier if they dealt only with digital contracts, nearly all of them said they still use paper in contracting.

56% Respondents who said that the risk of losing paper contracts was the primary negative of using paper

61% Managers who said that working digitally saves money

98% Survey participants who still use paper in transactions involving contracts

Climbing Confidence

Law firm managing partners are growing more confident in the economic climate, but worries still persist about rising expenses and continuing discount pressure, according to the Law Watch Managing Partner Confidence Index survey from Citi Private Bank.

The 76 managing partners surveyed expressed increased confidence in the economy as a whole, and the vast majority also predicted future revenue gains. But the respondents remained concerned that their clients would continue to push for more discounted services.

18 Point increase in managing partners’ overall confidence in the economy between the third and fourth quarters of 2012

85% Managing partners who anticipate future revenue growth

43% Respondents who predicted that discounting pressure would increase modestly

72% Respondents who expect expenses to rise somewhat

Depressing Data

This week, the American Bar Association (ABA) released data on the employment status of 2012 law school graduates. This is the second year in which the ABA has required law schools to report more detailed employment numbers for inclusion in the survey.

And while last year’s graduates had more luck landing full-time, long-term positions than their 2011 counterparts, the numbers didn’t exactly paint a rosy picture of the post-grad employment landscape.

56.2% 2012 graduates who have full-time, long-term positions that required bar passage

54.9% 2011 graduates who secured such positions

10.6% 2012 grads who are unemployed and still seeking work, up 1.4 percent from 2011

Soaring Settlements

When it comes to securities class action settlements, 2012 was about quality—not quantity. The number of overall settlements decreased between 2011 and last year, but total settlement amounts increased by more than 100 percent over the same time period, owing largely to a rise in blockbuster settlements of more than $100 million.

Most of that settlement cash came from the financial services industry, followed by the technology and pharmaceutical sectors. Read on for more data:

53 Court-approved securities class action settlements in 2012, the lowest number in 14 years

$54.7 million Average settlement amount in 2012, up from $21.6 million the previous year

74% Percentage of total 2012 settlement dollars that came from settlements in excess of $100 million

Wage Woes

Companies dropped more cash on wage and hour settlements in 2012 than they did the previous year, according to a new report from National Economic Research Associates (NERA).  The total amount that companies paid out last year came in slightly higher than the five-year average of $455 million, which NERA primarily attributes to a wage and hour settlement between Novartis Pharmaceuticals and 7,000 of its employees.

Although companies paid more on average to resolve cases in 2012 than they did in 2011, the amount was still significantly lower than the five-year average of $7.5 million.

102 Total settled wage and hour cases in 2012, down slightly from 107 the previous year

$467 million Total amount that companies paid in wage and hour settlements last year, up 18 percent from 2011

$4.8 million Average amount that companies paid to resolve a case in 2012, up from $4.6 million in 2011

$1,300 Average settlement value per plaintiff, down from $1,500 in 2011

Contributing Author

Alanna Byrne

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