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May 05, 2015

Peer Monitor Economic Index Holds Steady in First Quarter

Rising Demand Offset by Weak Rates, Productivity

EAGAN, Minn. – The Peer Monitor Economic Index (PMI), which measures the relative health of the legal marketplace, was unchanged at 54 in the first quarter, the same as the previous quarter. Despite slightly higher demand, weak rate growth and falling productivity held back gains in the market

The PMI is produced by Thomson Reuters, and is a composite index of law firm market performance using real-time data drawn from major law firms in the United States and key international markets. A PMI of 65 or greater indicates strong law firm market performance.

Demand1 for large law firm services rose 0.6% during the quarter – the fifth consecutive quarterly gain.

Worked rates, however, rose only 2.8% – the lowest rate growth in more than four years. Productivity, meanwhile, fell for the sixth consecutive quarter, as firms continue to grow headcount faster than demand warrants.

Transactional practices remained strong. Corporate work rose 2.3%. Real estate was up 4.1% while tax work inched down 0.4%.Litigation, however, fell 0.3% – its eleventh straight quarterly decline.

Direct expenses inched higher and were up 3.2% as firms grew headcount. Overhead expenses grew 2.6%.

"The first quarter highlighted both promising signs as well as some of the challenges that continue to face the law firm market," said Mike Abbott, vice president, Client Management and Global Thought Leadership, Thomson Reuters. "Demand is extending the momentum shown in 2014, particularly among transactional practices. However, weakening rate growth is becoming a concern, and productivity levels continue to fall. Firms are being continually challenged in this market environment to find ways to achieve meaningful growth in their profitability."

For more information about the PMI and to review the latest PMI report, visit http://peermonitor.thomsonreuters.com.


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1 Demand is defined as the growth in billable hours.

 

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