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Trends in Law Firm Staffing Structure

Is your firm up on the latest trends in law firm staffing structure?

Innovative firm leaders continue to modify their staffing structures to accommodate changing client demands, new technology, and the modern workforce. As a result, law firm staffing structures are more efficient than ever before. In addition to lowering administrative staff to lawyer ratios, firms are also hiring executives with specialized expertise. Here is a look at how law firm staffing structures have evolved and the latest trends you should know:


Today’s clients demand business-oriented solutions. In response, law firms have begun to operate more like businesses. The tradition of running a firm by a committee or delegating roles to senior partners has evolved. Many profitable firms have added new C-suite executive positions such as chief operating officer, chief information officer, chief financial officer, HR director, or chief technology officer. Business acumen and experience are key in staffing these leadership positions. Many firms recruit outside of the legal industry to fill these roles.

Practice Groups

Law firms are defined by their expertise in particular areas of law, whether it’s real estate, finance, or energy. Practice groups are still the most effective way a firm can organize its staffing structure, attract clients, and build market share. In today’s market, previously unheard of practice areas emerge with regularity. For example, laws surrounding medicinal cannabis, drones, blockchain, or #metoo did not exist a decade ago. Firms can grow their practice groups organically from within or recruit established attorneys from other firms. It is common for a large firm to poach an entire practice group from a competitor. Instead of referring business away, firms can even create a short-term practice group using qualified and experienced temporary attorneys.


Generational differences have caused several changes in law firm staffing structure. Instead of wealth, prestige, and seniority, Millennials are more concerned with work/life balance and quality of experience. Not surprisingly, many new lawyers have no plans to pursue partnership consideration. Law firms have become more open to developing career roles for those associates who aren’t on the partner track. Instead of culling the associates who won’t make partner, some progressive firms now keep high performing and profitable lawyers in senior associate, counsel, or consultant roles.

Support Staff

The workflow at law firms has been broken down into isolated tasks that can be completed by the lowest cost resource. In particular, projects such as e-discovery, research, litigation and investigation support, document review, and coding have shifted to temporary lawyers, outsourced service providers, or technology. Firms are looking for tech-savvy legal support staff with a broader skillset that can be utilized across a range of tasks.

Collier Legal Search is a full-service legal staffing company. We place well-credentialed partners, associates, and legal professionals at every level in law firms and corporations. Our experience, connections, and unique approach to building our candidate database deliver consistent results that clients can depend on. We are committed to the success of our clients and our candidates. Find out what we can do for you. Contact us at 832-239-5253.

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