Good News, San Francisco (For Law Firms): Locals Still Suing One Another

Down -- but, locally, far from out
A flagging economy hasn't yet led to the Shakespearian situation of killing all the lawyers -- at least not in San Francisco (and, again, not yet).

Despite some hard-to-ignore setbacks for the city's providers of legal services, a recent report by the legal consulting firm Hildebrandt International states that San Francisco's law firms are way better off than their colleagues in other cities. The study notes an 8 percent drop nationwide in the demand for legal services over the first quarter of 2009 compared with last year's tally compared to the same time period. New York City experienced a 9.5 percent decline and Los Angeles toed the national average of 8 percent, according to firms' reported billable hours. But San Francisco? We're only down 1 percent -- now there's a loss that feels like a win.

Not surprisingly, these are the days of wine and roses for bankruptcy lawyers -- demand has jumped 13 percent since last year, according to Hildebrandt. Mergers and Acquisitions also is up two percent, while litigation is unchanged. "General corporate work" is down 14 percent and -- surprise, surprise, surprise -- real estate is 20 percent in the hole.

You can see a very illustrative bar graph on the practice areas from here. It can be read without the aid of a lawyer (sorry guys).
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