Firm Leaders Predicting Profit Growth in 2014, Survey Shows

, The Legal Intelligencer

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Managing Partners Predict Profit

While Heller said his focus is on revenue growth given expenses can only be cut so much, he said clients are forcing firms to engage in project management given their demands for more efficient delivery of legal services.

Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney CEO Jack Barbour said he is confident his firm will meet its aggressive budget for 2013.

"I'm not wildly optimistic about 2014 but I think it will be mildly better," he said.

Barbour said he expects energy work to particularly remain strong for the firm, with the only practice not expected to grow being bankruptcy. He said the firm continues to remain more efficient with less space and less staff.

"I think everyone has accepted the paradigm shift that while revenue is still of primary importance, revenue is not the answer to everything and efficiency is much more a factor than what it was pre-2008," Barbour said.

Fox Rothschild managing partner Mark Silow said he would agree with the survey results that things are generally improving on the demand side and that firms have become better in the last five or so years at managing expenses. But demand growth, Silow said, is proving to be a region-by-region phenomenon.

"I'm not sure that the increase in demand is as much located in the Philadelphia region as it may be in other regions," Silow said. "But I don't think Philadelphia has slowed down, I just think other parts of the country are doing better."

Silow said his firm is seeing increased business in New York, Southern Florida and California.

For Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott, 2013 was an investment year with acquisitions or new offices in Boston; Trenton and Newark, N.J.; Philadelphia; and Pittsburgh. CEO Timothy Ryan said that impacted the 2013 numbers, as did a flatter-than-anticipated year for the corporate and real estate departments.

"Assuming collections are tracking, we will end 2013 fine, particularly in light of the growth," Ryan said. "We were more optimistic that the business side would be stronger than we experienced."

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