For most of Florida's seven Am Law 200 firms, 2016 brought growth in revenue but patchwork results in other key metrics.
Six of the seven firms saw revenue growth last year, but only two saw any forward movement in revenue per lawyer—a metric that firm managers and analysts say is a key indicator of law firm health.
While Florida firms shifted up and down the national Am Law 200 gross revenue charts, they maintained their previously established order among their fellow Florida Am Law firms.
Joshua Dull, a legal recruiter at Major, Lindsey & Africa in Miami, said law firms put themselves at an advantage when they concentrate on laterals that either build up a firm's strengths or are key to helping it differentiate itself in strategic growth practice areas. But making the tough decisions behind letting lawyers go is also important, especially in an environment where many firms are dealing with a supply of lawyers that outweighs the demand for legal work, he said.
"Management teams that are willing to make tough decisions in terms of dealing with unproductive lawyers in the long run position themselves better for growth," Dull said.But growth in revenue per lawyer also generally means retention of the good lawyers a firm already has. Even productive new laterals generally need time to build up their books of business, while productive established attorneys are already billing those hours.