Maryland attorneys are cautiously optimistic about the state of the economy, anticipate investing in marketing and technology at their firms and expect an uptick in billable hours over the next three months, according to the first Daily Record quarterly Maryland Lawyers Confidence Index survey.
At the same time, respondents – most of whom are solo practitioners or work at small firms – say they are unlikely to invest in infrastructure or to hire additional staff or associates, the survey found.
The email survey of 136 attorneys in private practice in Maryland was conducted from Feb. 24 through March 10. Respondents were asked seven questions designed to explore how they felt about the economic prospects of their practices as well as the overall economy.
Efficient in technology
Some firms are trimming overhead positions such as secretaries and legal assistants. In turn, lawyers are becoming more efficient with technology, lessening demand for on-site support staff, said Randi Lewis, a recruiter with Major, Lindsey & Africa who specializes in recruiting and placing law firm partners and associates in the Baltimore market.
"There will always be need for support staff but not as many," Lewis said.
On the flip side, firms are adding positions in accounting, marketing and IT, said Lewis, which is consistent with survey findings.
Demand for "portable practices"
In the past year, firms have been hiring more associates in corporate practices, real estate, finance, health care, regulatory and litigation practices including products liability and employment litigation, Lewis said, adding that corporate real estate and finance work in particular are on the uptick.
"Business litigation and bankruptcy practices in larger Baltimore firms appear to remain stagnant," she said.
Lawyers with what Lewis calls "portable" practices, are in high demand, especially in Baltimore.