Arkansas Law Firms Holding Steady During Recession

by John Henry  on Monday, Jun. 8, 2009 12:00 am  

Most of the layoffs that have generated news across the nation, he said, have occurred in those large firms involved in private equity and Wall Street activity. "We have been fortunate, blessed," Eiseman said.

He has seen an uptick in the areas of bankruptcy and creditors' rights. "Hopefully, the economy will turn around soon," he said.

Nationwide, some law firms, especially the larger ones, have been offering flat-fee payment plans in a bid to better manage their budgets, but that's not the case in Arkansas.

The normal practice of billing by the hour still rules, although there are certain sectors in which flat fees traditionally have been charged, such as bond work, Wilbourn said.

Joiner said his firm deals in a lot of very complicated high-end work, making it next to impossible to charge a flat fee because the time involved in the case cannot be predicted. Some litigation can go on for a long time. "It's risky for both the client and the law firm," Joiner said of such cases.

"Clients are more cost conscious than in the past," Eiseman said. He sees more creative payment approaches ahead as clients simply cannot justify some of the high-dollar rates, citing a New York firm that passed the $1,000-an-hour barrier in 2007.

The List
Friday Eldredge & Clark remains the largest law firm in the state with 94 lawyers. That's down from 95 the previous year, but no other firm is even within striking distance of overtaking it.

The Mitchell Williams firm remains second with 68 attorneys in Arkansas, one more than it had last year. The firm also has six lawyers in Austin, Texas, and another in New York for a total of 75.

Wright Lindsey & Jennings LLP of Little Rock continues in the No. 3 position with 58 lawyers, one fewer than the year before.

The Rose firm and Quattlebaum Grooms Tull & Burrow PLLC of Little Rock tied for fifth place on the list with 32 lawyers.



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