The Tulip Bubble was a period during the Dutch Golden Age when prices for some bulbs of the recently introduced and fashionable tulip reached extraordinarily high levels. A premium bulb cost approximately ten times the annual salary of a skilled artisan before prices dramatically collapsed in February 1637. It’s widely considered to have been the first recorded asset bubble in history.

I often think about this when I read the raft of articles showing law firm pay hikes. The latest to announce their rates are Morrison & Foerster, who offer their NQs a staggering $202,500. Will it last? As I’ve previously written, crystal-ball gazing is an imprecise science. But there are signs of change. Take The Lawyer Awards Law Firm of the Year, which includes firms on a more budget-friendly footing, such as RPC, Shoosmiths, and TLT.

Their nominations don’t come as a surprise. The Lawyer recently noted that RPC and TLT were two of the best performing firms during the pandemic. RPC saw revenue up by 25% and a PEP rise of almost 50%. TLT, meanwhile, recorded turnover growth of 11% and a jaw-dropping increase in PEP of 87%.

Both firms demonstrate a strong and growing client appetite for national firms offering top quality work at sensible prices. While I hope all NQs receiving significant pay rises enjoy their moment, I suspect that the 2022 Lawyer Awards will see the continued embracing of firms moving to a more sustainable and affordable future.