Law Firms Forced to get Smarter: Cushman & Wakefield’s Annual Legal Benchmark Survey Results

Competitive Pressures are driving change across the highly conservative legal sector

WASHINGTON, DC, – Law Firms across the United States are facing increased pressure in the highly competitive industry, and are seeking new ways to build consensus and affect change to adjust to this evolving reality according to Cushman & Wakefield’s Legal Sector Advisory Group (LSAG).

Bright Insight, the 2017 National Legal Sector Benchmark Survey, conducted in partnership with ALM Legal Intelligence, polled over 1,500 individuals from law firms across the United States. Of the respondents, 48 percent were from national or global firms, and 52 percent from were regional or single-office firms.

“With real estate being the biggest expense for firms, excluding salaries, we are seeing a continued shift to rightsizing and incorporating new workplace strategies that help firms lower the cost of their footprint, while improving operations and client services,” said Sherry Cushman, Executive Managing Director and Leader of Cushman & Wakefield’s LSAG.

Now in its fourth year, Bright Insight goes beyond the bricks and mortar of law firms, delving into the key drivers and trends that are directly affecting this constantly evolving sector. The results of this industry-first survey cover a wide range of topics, exploring the business, financial and operational drivers affecting the legal sector. The survey also captured responses from Associates, an initiative launched in 2014, which provides insights into what is influencing and driving the next generation of lawyers.

With real estate lease terms ranging from 10 to 15 years, and the traditionalists and baby boomers beginning to retire, planning for the future generation of lawyers is impacting building selections and workplace design. In the Bright Insight survey, 72% of respondents noted that their associates are seeking cutting-edge technologies, doing more of their own work, and working remotely.

“We are seeing how the use of technology is becoming the new disruptor in the legal industry. Technology is allowing attorneys to work more efficiently and effectively outside the office,” said Cushman. “Coupled with the expanding use of Artificial Intelligence in the legal sector, smart law firms are looking for ways to harness these new innovations to increase their profits while reducing operating expenses.”

To download the entire report, please click here.

Cushman & Wakefield’s Legal Sector Advisory Group is composed of over 350 real estate advisors from across the globe that specialize in creating and implementing real estate solutions that support law firms and related businesses. In today’s competitive marketplace, firms are challenged to maintain profit margins while keeping work environments efficient, creative and flexible. By bringing together real estate advisors that understand the unique characteristics of the legal sector, Cushman & Wakefield is able to provide the legal sector with creative, forward-thinking strategies to achieve the most flexible, operationally efficient and cost-effective real estate solutions globally.

ALM Legal Intelligence is the leading provider of detailed business information and competitive intelligence to the legal industry, including top Am Law 100 and 200 domestic and international firms and their clients.

About Cushman & Wakefield

Cushman & Wakefield is a leading global real estate services firm that helps clients transform the way people work, shop, and live. Our 45,000 employees in more than 70 countries help occupiers and investors optimize the value of their real estate by combining our global perspective and deep local knowledge with an impressive platform of real estate solutions. Cushman & Wakefield is among the largest commercial real estate services firms with revenue of $6 billion across core services of agency leasing, asset services, capital markets, facility services (C&W Services), global occupier services, investment & asset management (DTZ Investors), project & development services, tenant representation, and valuation & advisory. 2017 marks the 100-year anniversary of the Cushman & Wakefield brand. 100 years of taking our clients’ ideas and putting them into action. To learn more, visit, or follow @CushWake on Twitter.