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Law Firm Profitability Soars, Leading to Record High for Thomson Reuters Peer Monitor Index

Thomson Reuters: “The large law firm market saw a substantial recovery in the second quarter from the economic impact of the last year. Demand for law firm services for the quarter was higher than pre-pandemic levels. In addition, rates remained high, and many overhead expenses continued to shrink. As a result, the Thomson Reuters Peer Monitor Economic Index (PMI), a composite index of law firm market performance, soared to a record high of 84, shattering the previous all-time high of 70. The PMI jumped 22 points, the biggest quarterly increase in the history of Peer Monitor. “The law firm market has largely regained its footing after persevering through unprecedented challenges,” said Paul Fischer, president, Legal Professionals, Thomson Reuters. “Demand, measured in billable hours, rose a remarkable 7.3% in the second quarter, which more than made up for the steep decline seen in the same time period a year ago. Demand for legal services is now higher than it was two years ago, prior to the pandemic. And measures of firm profitability are significantly higher. There is still some uncertainly, but firms are generally performing at a high level in the current conditions and appear well positioned to withstand whatever lies ahead.”  The dramatic rise in second-quarter demand was primarily driven by strength in M&A and other corporate work. Several other practice areas, including real estate and employment, also saw demand grow to above pre-pandemic levels. A partial recovery in litigation also contributed. While rate growth slowed slightly from recent quarters, it was still a solid 3.4% this quarter. Meanwhile, overhead costs such as office expenses, continued to decline, even as many firms prepare for a return to the office. Technology and knowledge management, including library services, expenses were notable exceptions, rising in the second quarter as firms continued investing in resources to support lawyers’ workflow – both remote and in-office…”

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