Patrick J. Lamb: “Just days apart, Wells Fargo and Citibank released their commentary on the financial performance of the Am Law 200 law firms. The news was not pretty. Characterizations like “underproductivity” and “anemic” and “margins squeezed” littered the two reports. What do we learn from these two reports? We learn that demand from clients is dropping, there is compression on profits, and that excess capacity is worsening, including (perhaps especially) at senior levels. The Wells Fargo and Citibank commentaries are based on survey responses, so their reliability is limited by the truthfulness of the responses. (Remember how “off” Dewey’s responses were). Even with the expected positive spin law firm leaders will place on their responses to the banks, Wells Fargo’s Jeff Grossman, legal specialty group director of banking, stated “[The data] really supports the argument that there are a few firms in this country doing exceedingly well even in this tough environment, and everyone else is treading water or facing significant challenges.”
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