“Associate role peaked in US law firms 25 years ago”
Yes indeed, I remember the days in the 1980s when associates were highly in demand, and we were working 2,400 billable hours per year, plus all the non-billable time. The generaic article is online here. A source article by Bill Henderson is here. Even more background is here, from Bill Henderson.
The demise of those days is a good thing, but more law firm change remains ahead.