Law Firm Closings Outpacing Openings Amid Stagnant Demand, Research Report Shows

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The number of law firm office location closings outpaced the number of office openings in 2017, marking the first time in four years that has happened, according to a new research report from Leopard Solutions, a research firm that focuses on attorney recruiting.

The report, entitled Leopard Solutions Annual Assessment of the Competitive Landscape for Law Firms, shows that since 2014, the volume of office closings has remained relatively steady, but the number of openings has declined significantly. The data in the report was compiled using Firmscape, Leopards Solutions’ own law firm intelligence program, and covers the current Top 200 law firm list and measures those firms over time.

The report also noted that the top locations with office openings included Chicago, Los Angeles, and Oklahoma City; while the top locations for office closings were London, Palo Alto and Beijing. Interestingly, both New York City and Washington, D.C. were among the top locations on both the office opening and closing lists.


“The trend of declining office openings (and steady closings) corresponds to a period of stagnant demand for legal services — a trend that has been observed by a number of independent analysts,” the report stated, citing Altman Weil’s most recent Law Firms in Transition survey and Citi/Hildebrandt’s 2018 Client Advisory.

Like the recent 2018 Report on the State of the Legal Market, issued by The Center for the Study of the Legal Profession at Georgetown University Law Center and Thomson Reuters Legal Executive Institute, these reports depict a legal industry that continues to endure slow or stagnant demand growth for its services.

The Leopard Solutions report goes on to discuss the continuing erosion of lateral hiring growth for the top 200 U.S. law firms, pointing out that the once “go to” strategy may be falling out of favor.

Download the Leopard Solutions Annual Assessment of the Competitive Landscape for Law Firms report here.