Big firms expect to raise rates slightly, but …

An interesting report was recently released by the Altman Weil consulting firm. It surveyed nearly 300 U.S. law firms and found that those firms intend to raise their 2010 rates by an average of more than 3 percent.

“Although these results may seem to contradict some expectations for rate freezes in 2010, this is a relatively conservative rate increase by law firms that are struggling to balance their own business perspective with the needs of their clients.” said Altman Weil principal Tom Clay.  “Most firms are making careful, considered increases – often client by client or lawyer by lawyer – unlike prior years when across the board increases were typical. … Law firms know that this is a buyers market.” 

However, when the managing partners of some of Michigan’s largest law firms were asked about what measures they would be taking in 2010 in terms of raising rates,  none would respond on record.

It’s understandable why they kept mum. No one wants to alert the competition as to what course of action is being taken financially by a firm of 100 or more attorneys. It could lead to something akin to the Wal-Mart v. Amazon price wars of last holiday season — only on a more crucial scale.