Optimism among Maryland attorneys is increasing ever so slightly as more respondents to The Daily Record’s quarterly Maryland Lawyers Confidence Index survey said they were likely to make additional investments in infrastructure, technology and support staff in the next three months.
The index, which gauges the overall optimism or pessimism of respondents about the economic prospects of their practice and the overall economy, produced an overall score of 2 on a scale of -100 to 100, with positive numbers reflecting optimism. That’s up from -1 in the first quarter.
On the whole, there were no large material changes between the first and second quarters from respondents– most of whom are solo practitioners or work at small firms – in their attitudes toward their own firms and the industry as a whole.
“When law firms are making investments, they’re being very careful and thoughtful about the people they’re bringing in,” said Randi S. Lewis, a recruiter with Major, Lindsey & Africa who specializes in recruiting and placing law firm partners and associates in the Baltimore market.
Business litigation across the state has been slow and most of the hiring on litigation side has been in products liability and employment law, Lewis added.
About 70 percent of the survey respondents work at a firm with five or fewer attorneys, and about one-third of the attorneys surveyed practice in Baltimore.
The email survey of 136 attorneys in private practice in Maryland was conducted from May 19 to June 23, a slightly longer response window than the first round. Respondents were asked seven questions on the their attitudes toward the economic prospects of their practices and the overall economy.
Among the findings:
- 48 percent of respondents said they either strongly or somewhat agree that the overall state of the economy is good, compared to 50 percent in the previous survey; 28 percent said they disagree either strongly or somewhat with that view, compared to 20 percent in the previous survey.
- 33 percent said they are likely to see an increase in billable hours in the next quarter, compared to 34 percent in the previous survey; 29 percent said that would not be the case, down from 27 percent.
- 49 percent said they are likely to invest in new technology, up from 47 percent; 21 percent of respondents said they are not, down from the previous 28 percent.
- 54 percent said their firm would invest or expand its marketing operations, up from 49 percent; 28 percent said they would not, the same as the previous survey.
- 27 percent of respondents said they plan on investing in support staff, up from 23 percent in the first quarter; 50 percent of respondents said they don’t plan on investing in support staff, compared to 46 percent in the previous survey.
- 23 percent said they would invest in infrastructure, compared to 18 percent previously; 39 percent said they won’t invest in infrastructure in the next quarter, down from the 46 percent in the previous survey.
- 30 percent said they’re likely to hire attorneys in the next three months, down from the 32 percent of the last quarter; 55 percent said they don’t plan on hiring attorneys in the next three months, up slightly from the previous survey’s 54 percent.
How the Maryland Lawyers Confidence Index was done
The confidential survey was emailed to The Daily Record master database of subscribers, who were asked if they were attorneys in private practice who did not work for a government agency or for a law school. Respondents who chose “yes” were taken to the survey of seven questions.
The survey was conducted by Best Companies Group, an experienced market and consumer research company in central Pennsylvania that is owned by The Daily Record’s parent company. The results were compiled by Best Companies.
An index score for each question and for the overall survey was calculated by taking the (total positive responses – negative responses)/total responses x 100.
Would you like to participate?
If you are an attorney in private practice in Maryland and would like to participate in the quarterly Maryland Lawyers Confidence Index survey, sign up here. Your name and your survey answers are confidential.