You are not alone if you are a partner at a law firm and aren’t busy enough. According to this ABA article an Altman Weil report reveals that most partners aren’t busy enough. The figure is 80% for non-equity partners at big firms. Here is a summary of the report.

Stats from the article:

Fifty-two percent of the surveyed law firms report their equity partners are not sufficiently busy. Sixty-two percent say their nonequity partners are not sufficiently busy, including 80 percent of firms with more than 250 lawyers.

The report identifies overcapacity of lawyers as the problem. One of the main causes is firms losing business to corporate law departments. One of the suggested solutions is ‘downsizing’, which is a nice way of describing firing people.

One of the long-term effects of this trend is more lawyers working in-house while making less money than they did in private practice. While this may sound bad to some private practice attorneys, I’m not sure it is.

I don’t know if I have ever talked to an in-house lawyer who expressed a desire to return to private practice. Once they adjust to the lower pay, they are happy to stay in-house. The same applies for most government lawyers. Quality of life and not having the pressure of having to generate work and/or bill time are the primary reasons given.

One of the problems with this model for Mississippi lawyers is that we don’t have that many in-house jobs in Mississippi. For many Mississippi lawyers, going in-house means moving to another state.

I expect lawyer overcapacity to be an issue for the rest of my career.