Today, Clio, the world’s leading provider of cloud-based legal technology, released the 2023 Legal Trends for Mid-Sized Law Firms report, revealing unique insights and analyses into mid-sized law firms, defined as those with more than 21 employees, in the legal services market.
Key findings from the report indicate that mid-sized law firms are performing well compared to smaller firms, due to increased business growth and higher hourly rates. Though lawyers at mid-sized firms have better work-life balance, they report lower personal and professional satisfaction, and are also more resistant to remote work and flexible schedules, than lawyers at smaller firms. As technology has evolved, many mid-sized firms have fallen behind when compared to smaller firms, missing out on opportunities to adopt cloud-based technology to both better serve clients better and increase employee satisfaction.
“Mid-sized law firms have been able to recover and even increase their casework and billable amounts since the pandemic, while also ensuring their lawyers and staffers have better work-life balance than their counterparts in the industry,” said Joshua Lenon, Clio’s Lawyer-in-Residence. “This report provides the perspective required to help mid-market law firms grow to the next level and remain competitive. Identifying these trends gives law firm leaders a clear picture of where mid-sized law firms are succeeding and how they can overcome specific challenges they face in their unique segment of the legal market.”
The 2023 Legal Trends for Mid-Sized Law Firms report uses Clio’s unique data contributed by tens of thousands of law firms across the United States, as well as a range of methodological approaches to deliver insights about the state of legal practice and strategies for future improvement. Based on data from Clio’s 2022 Legal Trends Report, it features unique analyses specific to mid-sized law firms, providing updated data to benchmark business performance against other mid-market firms, as well as smaller firms.
Mid-sized firms see increased business growth and higher hourly rates
Mid-sized law firms have seen an increase in casework and growth in billable amounts and hourly rates since the pandemic, but are falling behind smaller firms in performance across key business metrics like utilization rates and realization rates.
- Billable amounts jumped by 28% between 2019 and 2022 for mid-sized firms (compared to 20% for smaller firms)
- Mid-sized firms collected one-third more revenue in 2022 than in 2019, while smaller firms only collected one-fifth more
- By the end of 2022, mid-sized firms had raised their hourly rates by 17% since 2019
Lawyers at mid-sized firms report lower personal and professional satisfaction
Many lawyers in mid-sized firms started new roles within the 12 months prior to April and May 2022, mostly due to dissatisfaction with firms, managers and colleagues, but also to become firm partners and owners. Additionally, lawyers in mid-sized firms are less happy in their personal and professional lives than their counterparts at smaller firms.
- 34% of lawyers at mid-sized firms left a job in the 12 months prior to April and May 2022
- Lawyers from mid-sized firms were five times more likely to be planning to leave a job in the next six months than lawyers at smaller firms
- Lawyers in smaller firms report higher states of well-being than those in mid-sized firms
Better work-life balance but less flexibility for mid-sized firms
Lawyers in mid-sized firms are finding better work-life balance than those in smaller firms, but aren’t necessarily working when they want to be. Lawyers from mid-sized firms are also more resistant to remote work and flexible schedules than lawyers in smaller firms, which is at odds with modern client expectations.
- 38% of lawyers in mid-sized firms regularly work over 40 hours per week, compared to 66% of lawyers at smaller firms
- Only 15% of lawyers in mid-sized firms reported that they work late into the night—between 10pm and 12am
- Only 39% of lawyers from mid-sized firms work on Mondays, perhaps to make up for frequently working through the weekend
Mid-sized law firms are falling behind on cloud technology adoption
Technology is evolving quickly, and many mid-sized firms have fallen behind—missing out on opportunities to serve clients better and increase employee satisfaction. As smaller firms continue to embrace legal technology, mid-sized law firms will need to find opportunities to adopt cloud technology and navigate change management within their organizations.
- 27% of mid-sized law firms reported using cloud-based legal practice management (LPM) software (compared to 73% of smaller firms)
- 67% of lawyers from mid-sized firms using cloud-based LPM software reported that their relationships with colleagues were good or very good (compared to 35% of lawyers in mid-sized firms not using cloud-based LPM software)
- 71% of lawyers from mid-sized firms using cloud-based LPM software reported that their relationships with clients were good or very good (compared to 40% of those not using cloud-based LPM software)
Lawyers and legal professionals from mid-sized firms can learn more about the latest technologies and industry trends at the 2023 Clio Cloud Conference, taking place in Nashville, Tennessee, on October 9–10. The conference offers a fantastic opportunity for mid-sized legal practitioners to connect, grow, and learn how to amplify their impact.
The 2023 Legal Trends for Mid-Sized Law Firms report is now available.