With more and more national firms opening offices in Florida and corporate clients handling an increasing amount of work in-house, many mid-sized Florida law firms are feeling squeezed. Clients are willing to pay for high-end work that takes extra expertise, but they want bargain prices for commoditized work. Many firms that are neither at the top nor the bottom—a group known as "the hollow middle"¬—are therefore experiencing slower growth.
This year's Review 100, which ranks Florida firms by headcount, shows a decline in the number of full-time lawyers at more than one-third of the Florida firms that reported census numbers in both 2016 and 2017.
An analysis of this year's Am Law firms indicates that across the country, mid-sized firms are struggling. But those firms that have found ways to differentiate themselves are still doing well. Analysts have found that in highly competitive markets where the supply of lawyers outweighs demand, firms that don't have a niche are likely to struggle. But in Florida, as elsewhere, the firms that have figured out ways to differentiate themselves continue to grow.
"Firms are differentiating themselves in order to better position themselves for long term success," said Joshua Dull, a legal recruiting partner for Major, Lindsey & Africa.