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New technologies level the playing field between big law and smaller firms

Heidi Hanson

Powerful new technologies like AI and cloud platforms are bringing new capabilities within reach for firms of all sizes, and raising the appeal of smaller regional and boutique firms to new law graduates.

In the legal world, global law firms and corporate legal departments capture most of the attention, and law school graduates may be thinking big law is their only career path — but small firms are increasing in maturity and complexity and investing in talent and technology. A growing acceptance of remote work has also influenced changing market dynamics.

In partnership with iManage, Above the Law conducted a survey of 1,000 attorneys at firms with 50 or fewer lawyers and reported some interesting results. For example, more than half of attorneys at smaller firms say their book of business accounts for 25 percent or more of the firm’s revenue. This indicates that they are making a more direct contribution to their firm’s bottom line — and that’s a factor that new talent may find compelling.  

Earnings are progressively more competitive, as well, with small firms of all sizes paying notably higher salaries than in past years. And while attorneys at smaller firms are earning more in general, the proportion of lawyers at the high end of the pay scale is also increasing.

Top-earning partners are found in practice areas traditionally thought of as large firm specialties — commercial litigation, corporate, real estate, or intellectual property. And in terms of the likelihood of earning higher salaries, large metro areas still hold sway.

But the outlook for smaller regional, specialized, and boutique firms is undoubtedly positive. Their challenge now is to harness new technologies to stay agile and compete effectively with larger organizations. The iManage cloud platform is designed to help firms of all sizes improve productivity, collaboration, and security, so lawyers can focus on their clients.

Reach out to iManage today for expert guidance in taking advantage of the new technologies leveling the playing field between Big Law and smaller firms.

About the author

Heidi Hanson

Making Knowledge Work

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