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Law Firm Leaders Uncertain on 2009 – Incisive Media’s The American Lawyer reported today that leaders of the nation’s largest law firms are uncharacteristically uncertain about what 2009 holds for their organizations. In its annual Law Firm Leaders Survey, an unprecedented 35 percent of managing partners predicted profits will decrease or stay flat next year.

However, 98 percent of respondents reported that they are still planning to raise billing rates in 2009 and 72 percent said that, despite layoffs, they expect a variety of factors to produce head count increases. For these and other stories, including exclusive Web-only results from the Law Firm Leaders survey.

The magazine also reports on four emerging trends that may bring fundamental change to the way large firms are structured and offers inside looks at the legal chaos surrounding the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers from both New York and London.

More than 110 managing partners from Am Law 200 firms responded to this year’s survey, with half reporting that they felt uncertain about the year ahead, up from a quarter a year ago. Said one respondent, “anybody who is running a law firm who pretends to be able to predict with certainty what the firm is going to be doing in the next year and how it’s going to fare is dreaming,”

This month, The American Lawyer examines whether the confluence of new financing; client pushback; changes in hiring, retention and promotion; and a new and different wave of technology will finally transform the industry. From changes in British law that permit outside investment in law firms, to the advent of new “talent-for-hire” firms, cracks are appearing in the business models that define every large firm today.

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