2019 Peer Monitor Midyear Report: A Return to Stability

Topics: Client Relations, Data Analytics, Efficiency, Law Firm Profitability, Law Firms, Leadership, Legal Innovation, Midyear Report, Reports & White Papers, Thomson Reuters


When the 2019 Report on the State of the Legal Market was released last January, it centered its discussion by considering all available information and evidence when reviewing the performance of the legal market, particularly given some of the mixed signals we have seen.

Now, the data discussed in the newly released 2019 Peer Monitor Midyear Report demonstrates the wisdom of that advice through the first half of 2019.

The new Midyear report presents the story of the legal services industry as it is being written in 2019, as seen through the lens of metrics provided by Thomson Reuters Peer Monitor. On balance, the market continues to experience a number of trends seen throughout the past several years: demand is growing, but at a modest pace; performance varies widely by law firm segment; law firms continue to hire attorneys at a healthy clip; and expenses continue to be closely managed.

You can download your copy of the “2019 Peer Monitor Midyear Report” here.

Other lessons from the Midyear data include:

  • Average worked rate growth at 3.8% year-to-date is higher than any mid-year point yet this decade. In fact, the worked rate growth in this past second quarter is the second-best quarter this decade, behind only Q4 2012. The report explores the cause and effect of this seeming anomaly.
  • Growth of lawyer full-time equivalents (FTEs) seen across all market segments is having a depressive effect on productivity, pushing that metric back into negative territory after an uptick in 2018.
  • The largest law firms led the way in terms of growth in the first half of 2019, but with their successes, there were also some potential pitfalls, specifically when it comes to continued lackluster realization.
  • Unsurprisingly, associate compensation continues to be a major headline of 2019. The report dives into possible strategies law firms are employing to manage these costs.

As law firms move fully into annual rate-setting season, it is vital that they have an understanding of the full context of the legal services market, exploring all available evidence. And the 2019 Peer Monitor Midyear Report provides up-to-date insights that could help them better sort through and understand this evidence.

On the whole, the metrics described in the Midyear report demonstrate a return to stability that is being widely experienced by the majority of the market, and which should help to highlight where firms might find opportunities and possibly even where some pitfalls may await.