AVAILABLE OPPORTUNITIES (312) 781-9000

The American Lawyer released their 33rd annual Am Law 100 report, which includes data and rankings for the nation’s 100 highest grossing law firms. Overall, gross revenue grew by 5 percent in 2019, coming in at a record breaking $104 billion. Additionally, net income increased by 4 percent, profit per equity partner grew by 5 percent, and revenue per lawyer rose by 3 percent.

According to the report, forty-two firms posted gross revenue over $1 billion in 2019, four more law firms than in 2018. Additionally, eighty-six firms reported gains in revenue and increased profits per partner in 2019. The results revealed that Kansas-city based Polsinelli reported the greatest increase in average profit per equity partner, up 28.3% from 2018.

Like in 2018, the 10 highest-grossing firms ranked in roughly 26% of the revenue the Am Law 100 generated last year, the report revealed. The next 16 firms accounted for another quarter of the year’s revenue, meaning that half of the revenue generated by the Am Law 100 came from the top 26 law firms. In terms of parity, it was a step forward after the top 10 firms alone brought in 38% of the group’s total revenue just two years ago, (as quoted in The American Lawyer).

For the third straight year in a row, Kirkland & Ellis landed the No. 1 spot as the highest grossing law firm in 2019, with $4.154 billion in revenue, up 10.6% from 2018. Latham & Watkins remained in the No. 2 spot, rising 11.3% in total revenue to $3.767 billion. DLA Piper moved up one spot from last year coming in at No. 3 with $3.112 billion. Baker & McKenzie claimed the No. 4 spot, with $2.920 billion in revenue. Skadden Arps retained the No. 5 spot, down 1.5 percent to 2.632 billion in 2019.

See more highlights from The Am Law 100 on The American Lawyer.

Contact Bill Sugarman for more information.

The American Lawyer reports that the U.S. law firm industry had another strong year in 2019 and revenues for 2020 are predicted to continue growing at a healthy rate, according to a new report from Citi Private Bank’s Law Firm Group and Hildebrandt Consulting. The report found that after a slow start to the year, firms progressively improved their financial performance, and are expected to grow revenues between 5.5% and 6.5% over the course of the full year.

As in other post-recession years, the primary driver of revenue growth was an increase in billing rates, rather than demand growth, the report revealed. During the first nine months of 2019, billing rates had the highest growth rate since before the recession, growing by an average of 4.7 percent. By contrast, demand grew far less than in 2018 at a rate of 0.9 percent. The most significant impact on revenue growth was the continued trend of a lengthening of the collection cycle, which was largely driven by clients delaying payment of their bills, the report revealed.

The report also identified an active lateral recruiting market as a key trend in 2019, combined with a majority of firms hoping to grow the size of their equity partnership in the coming years.“The success rate of laterals has improved. In the past, half the laterals weren’t really accretive to the firm,” explains Brad Hildebrandt, Chairman of Hildebrandt Consulting. “But firms have become much more cautious about who they’re hiring.”

The key reason for the better success rate is even greater rigor on the lateral hiring process, Hildebrandt argues. Firms are aligning hiring with their overall strategy, improving their due diligence, and working harder to integrate new partner hires. “This eagerness to add talent at the top of the leverage pyramid will likely continue, with 61% of leaders surveyed saying they aim to add equity partners in the next two years,” Hildebrandt adds.

“Looking ahead, we expect that the most successful firms will continue to expand and innovate—despite ongoing geopolitical and macroeconomic uncertainty and volatility, and a challenging talent market. For those firms, expansion will be closely aligned to the firm’s business strategy—more so than pursuing opportunistic growth,” Gretta Rusanow, Head of Advisory Services at Citi Private Bank concluded. “For many firms, the steps they are taking to do more with existing clients and broaden their client base, focus on growth practices, industries and regions, and introduce further efficiencies in the way they deliver legal services will go a long way to ensuring that 2020 is a successful year.”

See highlights from the full article on The American Lawyer.

Contact Bill Sugarman for more information.

The American Lawyer published results from its annual Midlevel Associates Survey, finding that “third-, fourth- and fifth-year associates are as happy than ever at their law firms.” The survey, conducted at 96 participating law firms, asked third-, fourth- and fifth-year associates to rate their firms on several aspects of job satisfaction, including: compensation and benefits; training and guidance; interaction with partners and other associates; interest and satisfaction level with the work; the firm’s policy on billable hours; and management’s openness about firm strategies and partnership chances. Midlevels graded their workplaces in these categories on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest score.

According to the report, associates in their third, fourth and fifth years gave an average composite score of 4.29 out of 5, an increase from last year’s average of 4.27. “Associate satisfaction grew in nearly every category lawyers were asked to rate. The results bode well for retention, in particular. The greatest improvement in average score was in the “expect to stay two years” category, rising to 4.18, compared with 4.12 last year. Midlevel associates are also happier on average with regard to the type of work they’re doing and the training they are getting. The average score for “interesting work” was 4.51, up from 4.47 last year, and the average for “satisfying work” was 4.39, up from 4.37. Scores for “training and guidance” and “partner relations” increased by similar margins, to 4.24 and 4.45, respectively,” (as quoted in The American Lawyer).

“Young lawyers appreciate law firms’ efforts to improve work-life balance, the report revealed. Training and mentorship also appear to be working well for firms that have made efforts to improve in those areas. But associates also cautioned their firms in some cases throughout the survey, warning that burnout is a risk and calling on leaders to continue to modernize their business models by moving away from longstanding billable hour policies,” the article reports. Of the 96 firms surveyed, the top five firms in terms of midlevel associate satisfaction in numerical order were Schulte Roth & Zabel, Paul Hastings, Drinker Biddle & Reath, O’Melveny & Myers, and Blank Rome.

See highlights from the full article on The American Lawyer.

Contact Bill Sugarman for more information.

The American Lawyer published results from its annual Am Law 200 report, which includes data and rankings for the nation’s Second Hundred highest grossing law firms. Overall, gross revenue increased on average by 3.1 percent, net income grew by 2.9 percent, profit per equity partner grew by 2.8 percent, revenue per lawyer increased 1.6 percent, and overall headcount rose 1.5 percent. According to the report, eleven Second Hundred firms saw double-digit revenue growth and thirty-eight firms saw revenue increase more than five percent.

The 2019 Am Law 200 report shows a tempered version of the financial strength demonstrated by the Am Law 100 notes Gina Passarella, Editor-in-Chief of The American Lawyer and ALM’s Global Legal Brands. “Firms, on average, performed well, but the growth was significantly less than what the first 100 firms experienced, highlighting the added pressures faced by smaller firms with less differentiation. In that sense, the Am Law 100’s better performance in 2018 is emblematic of another feature of that larger group: greater historical volatility. Second Hundred managing partners need not look upon that with envy,” (as quoted in The American Lawyer).

See more highlights from The Am Law 200 on The American Lawyer.

Contact Bill Sugarman for more information.

In a recent article, The American Lawyer takes a deep dive look at the strategies and practices of a small group of firms that have delivered year-over-year growth since the Great Recession. According to ALM Intelligence data, only 27 of the 100 firms on the Am Law rankings have had year-over-year growth in revenue since the 2009 fiscal year. To understand how a select group of firms turned the recession into an opportunity to thrive, not just survive, The American Lawyer spoke with a group of leaders who played a pivotal role in reimagining their firms’ trajectories.

So, what characteristics do these law firms have in common? Janet Stanton of law firm consultancy Adam Smith, Esq. elaborates on the subject, noting “They tend to operate in a more business-like way, which means a focus on profitability, intentional planning, strategic intake and succession planning for leadership roles and client management. From the 1980s to 2008, law land didn’t have to do any of these things, so these firms that are pulling away changed their strategy, notes Stanton. These firms have been able to get it right for nearly a decade, and each had to develop a unique strategy to make it happen,” (as quoted in The American Lawyer).

According to the article, the law firms that have delivered year-over-year growth since the 2009 fiscal year include: Akin Gump; Baker & Hostetler; Barnes & Thornburg; Cooley; Davis Polk; Duane Morris; Fox Rothschild; Fragomen; Gibson Dunn; Goodwin Procter; Holland & Knight; Jackson Lewis; King & Spalding; Kirkland & Ellis; Latham & Watkins; McGuireWoods; Milbank; Morgan Lewis; Ogletree Deakins; Paul Weiss; Perkins Coie; Polsinelli; Proskauer Rose; Ropes & Gray; Sheppard Mullin; Simpson Thacher; and Williams & Connolly.

See highlights from the full article on The American Lawyer.

Contact Bill Sugarman for more information.

The American Lawyer released their 32nd annual Am Law 100 report, which includes data and rankings for the nation’s 100 highest grossing law firms. Overall, gross revenue grew by 8 percent in 2018, coming in at a record breaking $98.7 billion. Additionally, net income increased by 7.8 percent, profit per equity partner grew by 6.5 percent, revenue per lawyer moved up 4.2 percent, and total attorney headcount rose 3.6 percent.

According to the report, thirty-seven firms posted gross revenue over $1 billion in 2018, six more law firms than in 2017. Additionally, ninety-three firms reported gains in revenue, up from 85 firms last year. For 2018, the top 10 firms accounted for 26 percent of the Am Law 100’s total revenue. The next 17 firms accounted for the next 25 percent of revenue. Firms No. 28 thru 53 accounted for another quarter of the revenue, and the final 47 firms generated the remaining 24 percent of the total Am Law 100 firms, (as quoted in The American Lawyer).

For the second straight year, Kirkland & Ellis landed the No. 1 spot as the highest grossing law firm in 2018, with $3.757 billion in revenue, up 18.7% from 2017. Latham & Watkins remained in the No. 2 spot, rising 10.5% in total revenue to $3.386 billion. Baker & McKenzie retained the No. 3 spot, with $2.900 billion in revenue. DLA Piper remained in its respective spot from last year coming in at No. 4 with $2.836 billion. Skadden Arps claimed the No. 5 spot, up 3.5 percent to 2.673 billion in 2018.

See more highlights from The Am Law 100 on The American Lawyer.

Contact Bill Sugarman for more information.

The American Lawyer reports that law firm demand in 2018 was the highest on record since 2011, according to a recent report by Thomson Reuters. Further amplifying evidence that law firms, especially the largest, reached new financials highs in 2018. Another report, conducted by Citi Private Bank’s Law Firm Group, found that revenue growth was up 6.4 percent at the 191 firms surveyed by the bank. And in the last two weeks, Wells Fargo reported average law firm revenue growth at 5.9 percent and average net income growth at 7.6 percent, the strongest numbers since before the Great Recession.

Thompson Reuters report specifically revealed that law firm demand, billing rates and lawyer productivity all rose during the year. According to the analysis, demand, measured as the number of hours billed, rose 1 percent for the year among all firms. Among the Am Law 100 firms, that number was 2.8 percent. Am Law Second Hundred firms and midsize firms saw demand growth in 2018 of 0.4 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively. The Am Law 100 was the only segment of firms that saw demand growth in all four quarters of the year, the report found, (as quoted in The American Lawyer).

Fortunately for smaller firms, rate growth was more evenly distributed, the report notes. The Am Law 100 saw rates grow 3.8 percent in 2018, compared to 2.9 percent for firms in the Second Hundred and midsize categories. The report also notes that Am Law 100 firms were the only segment of firms to show positive full-year growth in productivity, which measures hours worked per lawyer. The 100 largest firms by revenue grew productivity in 2018 by 0.8 percent, while that figure was flat at Second Hundred and midsize firms, (as quoted in The American Lawyer).

Mike Abbott, a Thomson Reuters vice president for enterprise thought leadership and content strategy, said that while 2018 was a banner year for law firms— especially the nation’s largest—there remains uncertainty around 2019, especially after the fourth quarter was somewhat softer than earlier quarters. “Whether the tailwinds will continue in 2019 remains to be seen, as client rate pressure and a shifting competitive landscape for legal services continue to pose challenges,” Abbott said in a statement. “And while the entire market was improved in 2018, we saw an increasingly segmented market where the very largest firms gathered the lion’s share of the gains last year.”

See highlights from the full article on The American Lawyer.

Contact Bill Sugarman for more information.

The American Lawyer reports the legal industry is poised to have its strongest annual performance in a decade, according to a recent report by Wells Fargo Private Bank’s legal specialty group. The report, drawn from a survey of 120 firms, found that revenue was up 7 percent industry-wide, buoyed by demand growth of 3.3 percent when compared to the same time period last year. The results, Wells Fargo said, “almost certainly assure that the industry will report its strongest annual performance in a decade.”

The report revealed revenue at the 50 largest firms grew by 8.2 percent, compared with 5.7 percent at firms ranked 51 to 100 and 2.3 percent for the Second Hundred firms. In addition to revenue growth, law firm demand increased 4.3 percent for Am Law 50 firms; rose 2.5 percent for Am Law 50-100 firms; and dipped 0.2 percent for the Second Hundred. Firms also reported strong increases in profitability, with income to equity partners up 7.7 percent from a year ago at the same time. That is partly driven by shrinking partner head count. The survey noted a 3.5 percent decline in equity partner full- time equivalents in 2018, with 75 percent of firms reporting a decline in partner head count, (as quoted in The American Lawyer).

See highlights from the full article on The American Lawyer.

Contact Bill Sugarman for more information.

The American Lawyer released their 31st annual Am Law 100 report, which includes data and rankings for the nation’s 100 highest grossing law firms. Overall, gross revenue increased on average by 5.5 percent, net income increased by 6.1 percent, profit per equity partner grew by 6.3 percent, revenue per lawyer moved up 3.2 percent, and headcount rose 2.2 percent.

According to the report, thirty-one firms posted gross revenue over $1 billion in 2017, four more law firms than in 2016. Additionally, eighty-five firms reported gains in revenue, up from 82 firms last year. Kirkland & Ellis landed the No. 1 spot as the highest grossing firm in 2017, with $3.165 billion in revenue, up 19.4% from the previous year. Latham & Watkins, who had been on top for the last three years, dropped one spot to No. 2 with a record $3.064 billion in revenue. Baker & McKenzie remained in the No. 3 spot, with $2.670 billion in revenue. DLA Piper advanced one spot to No. 4 this year, after a 6.6% increase in revenue, knocking Skadden Arps down to the No. 5 spot.

“Despite increasing pressures on price and demand, more firms saw growth in revenue and profits in 2017 than they did in the prior year. A closer look at the data shows the firms toward the top of the 100 are growing at faster rates than the bottom half of the list, continuing a trend of stratification we have seen building over years. But all in all, most firms figured out a way to show increasing returns in 2017,” notes Gina Passarella, Editor-in-Chief of The American Lawyer.

See highlights from the full report and article on The American Lawyer.

Contact Bill Sugarman for more information.