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The American Lawyer released its annual Global 100 report, a ranking of the world’s 100 largest law firms by gross revenue, profits per partner, and total attorney headcount. Overall, gross revenue grew by 4.7 percent to $119.6 billion, and profits per equity partner increased, on average, by 0.4 percent. Attorney headcount also saw an increase this year, with an annual growth of 8.0 percent. Additionally, that same assessment can be applied to the Global Second Hundred, which grew at a 3.6% clip, resulting in total revenue of $33.1 billion, bringing the aggregate figure for the full Global 200 to $152.7 billion. According to the report, much of this growth can be attributed to head count increases, particularly in the Second Hundred, where firms increased their complement of lawyers by 10.2%.

The report revealed that a total of 50 firms cracked the $1 billion mark, up from 46 firms last year. Of the Global 200 firms on the list, United States accounted for 139 of the world’s top-grossing firms, followed by 25 from the United Kingdom, 10 firms from China, and 7 firms from Canada. Seventy-five firms equaled or topped $1 million in PEP, compared with 73 firms last year, the report notes. Additionally, this is the fifth time in the history of Am Law’s global ranking that U.S.-based firms occupied the top four spots. The top five firms in their respective order were Kirkland & Ellis, Latham & Watkins, DLA PiperBaker & McKenzie and Dentons.

A wider look at the Global 100, ranked by revenue, offers a picture of stability, the report adds. Eight of the firms in 2019’s top 10 remained there this year, as Allen & Overy and Linklaters both slipped slightly. And only one firm, recent trans-Atlantic merger product Womble Bond Dickinson, exited the top 100, replaced by labor and employment specialists Jackson Lewis. The Global Second Hundred does have a handful of newcomers. The highest among them is Spain’s Uría Menéndez, at 167. The other fresh faces are Australia’s Corrs Chambers Westgarth, China’s Jingsh Law Firm and U.S. firms Foley Hoag and Fisher Phillips, (as quoted in The American Lawyer).

See the full rankings and highlights from The Global 100 on The American Lawyer.

Contact Bill Sugarman for more information.

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 released its annual Global 100 report, a ranking of the world’s 100 largest law firms by gross revenue, profits per partner, and total attorney headcount. Overall, gross revenue grew by 8.1 percent to $114.2 billion, and profits per equity partner increased, on average, by 4.6 percent. Attorney headcount also saw an increase this year, with an annual growth of 5.7 percent. According to the report, law firm mergers, rapid growth among Chinese law firms, and a healthy American market coalesced to turn 2018 into a spectacular year.

The report revealed that a total of 46 firms cracked the $1 billion mark, up from 34 firms two years ago. Of those 46 billion-dollar firms, United States accounted for 77 of the world’s top-grossing firms, followed by 12 from the United Kingdom, and five from China. Additionally, this is the fourth time in the history of Am Law’s global ranking that U.S.-based firms occupied the top five spots. The top five firms in their respective order were Kirkland & Ellis, Latham & Watkins, Baker & McKenzieDLA Piper and Skadden Arps.

“Globally, most key practice areas were subject to brisk demand. The merger and acquisitions environment was active, albeit stronger in some markets than others. Disputes work, particularly international litigation and arbitration, kept practitioners busy. And an anticipated dip in investigations did not materialize, with sanctions, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and money laundering matters dotting the headlines. Other factors, beyond growing demand, also helped boost the numbers including two significant mergers between U.S.-based firms and two significant trans-Atlantic mergers: Nelson Mullins combination with Broad and Cassel and Hunton & Williams merger with Andrews Kurth Kenyon on the domestic side, and the creation of Womble Bond Dickinson and Bryan Cave internationally,” (as quoted in The American Lawyer).

See the full rankings and highlights from The Global 100 on The American Lawyer.

Contact Bill Sugarman for more information.

In a recent article, “Being a Law Firm Partner Was Once a Job for Life. That Culture Is All but Dead,” Sara Randazzo, writing for the Wall Street Journal, reports on recent trends in Big Law partnership and profitability over the past decade. According to data collected by ALM Intelligence, the percentage of equity partners across the Am Law 100 has been declining for the past ten years, with the percentage of nonequity partners steadily increasing. ALM Intelligence’s data revealed that the equity tier was roughly 78% larger than the non-equity tier in 2008. Now, it’s only 27% larger. The conventional explanation for the growth of the two-tier system is that it produces higher profits per equity partner, thus solidifying the prestige of the law firm and improving its ability to attract the best legal talent, the article highlights.

As Randazzo reports, the newly demanding and data-driven model of the law firm has changed the culture of the business entirely. “Being named a partner once meant joining a band of lawyers who jointly tended to longtime clients and took home comfortable, and roughly equal, paychecks. Job security was virtually guaranteed, and partners rarely jumped ship. That model, and the culture that grew up around it, is all but dead. Law firms are now often partnerships in name only,” Randazzo notes. “At the modern law firm, not all partners are created equal, and data and billings rule. In the new paradigm, lawyers are expendable, and partners may jump to a competitor for the right amount of money, taking clients with them on the way out,” Randazzo adds.

According to the article, the rise of non-equity partnerships has been criticized on a number of grounds. Most significantly, as noted in the article, it lets equity partners jack up the billing rates of non-equity partners, often to north of $1,000, without having to share the wealth with them (or take a hit in their “profits per partner” rankings, which consider only equity partners). “No firm embodies the changes more than Kirkland & Ellis,” Randazzo reports. “Over the past decade, Kirkland has become known for making high-price offers to rising stars at competitors, for $10 million a year or more in some cases. It has embraced the two-tiered partner system, made up of a junior class paid a set salary and an inner circle of equity partners, who split the firm’s profits. The changes have pushed the spread between Kirkland’s highest- and lowest-paid partners to 43-to-1. Among its equity partners, the spread is nearing 9 to 1,” (as quoted in The Wall Street Journal).

According to another article by Law.com, some law firms are still holding on to the old partnership ethos even as the world changes around them. A handful of law firms including New York-based Cleary Gottlieb and Cravath Swaine & Moore still operate under a lockstep compensation system, which pays partners in a relatively tight band based on seniority, rather than how much revenue they bring in. At the same time, some law firms are new to the idea of a two-tier partnership. Simpson Thacher & Bartlett and Willkie Farr & Gallagher both reported the presence of non-equity partners—seven and 10, respectively—for the first time this year. Law firm leaders said the move is intended to reward promising young lawyers earlier and make the firm more competitive in recruiting,” (as quoted in Law.com).

See highlights from the full article on The Wall Street Journal.

Contact Bill Sugarman for more information.

The National Law Journal released its annual NLJ 500 rankings, which analyzes headcount data on the nation’s largest 500 law firms. According to the report, the number of lawyers in the NLJ 500 grew 2.5% in 2018 to 169,477, and the average firm size rose by eight lawyers last year to 339. By comparison, the NLJ 500 grew by 1% in 2017 and by about 2% in 2016. Partnerships expanded by just over 1% last year, driven by nonequity partnership growth of 3.8% in 2018, the report also revealed.

According to the report, three firms in the top ten saw upward movement including Latham & WatkinsKirkland & Ellis, and Morgan Lewis. New York, Washington D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles and Boston were the top cities with the most lawyers in this year’s NLJ 500. Additionally, one group that showed unexpected growth in the 2019 NLJ 500 was the category of “other” lawyers, which encompasses counsel, senior attorneys, of counsel and staff attorneys. This cohort showed a net gain of 1,171 lawyers—up 6.4% in 2018. That’s compared to a net gain of 99 lawyers, or just 0.5%, in 2017.

“The 2019 NLJ 500 tells the story of more growth in 2018 than we saw in the previous two years,” said Lisa Helem, Editor-in-Chief, The National Law Journal. “Overall, the 2019 NLJ 500 findings, especially at the top of the list, along with profit increases for much of the Am Law 200, reflect an industry enjoying rising demand and faster growth. The average head count increase—still in the low single digits—is a far cry from the 4% or 5% growth firms saw in the pre-recession period from 2005 to 2008. But given the ugly contraction that followed, there’s something to be said for this year’s more modest gains,” (as quoted in The National Law Journal).

See more highlights from NLJ 500 rankings on The National Law Journal.

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 released their annual Global 100 report, a ranking of the world’s 100 largest law firms by gross revenue, profits per partner, and total attorney headcount. Overall, gross revenue for the Global 100 grew by 6.4 percent to $105.7 billion, and profits per equity partner among Global 100 firms increased, on average, by 3.4 percent. Attorney headcount also saw an increase this year, with an annual growth of 10.7 percent.

For the third time in the history of Am Law’s global ranking, U.S.-based firms occupied the top five spots. Kirkland & Ellis advanced two spots this year to claim the No. 1 spot, knocking Latham & Watkins and Baker & McKenzie down to spots 2 and 3, respectively. Kirkland and Latham both cracked $3 billion in total revenue for the first time in 2017. But while Latham posted a commendable 8 percent increase in revenue, Kirkland’s grew at a whopping 18 percent, more than any other American firm. DLA Piper and Skadden Arps remained in their respective spots from last year, coming in at number 4 and number 5.

Another takeaway for all these firms—and those on the outside looking in—is the gap between total revenue growth and PEP. Even with plenty of money coming in, costs are growing across the world. That, according to former Clifford Chance managing partner Tony Williams, is causing firms to “look much more carefully at who becomes an equity partner and who stays one.” Those elite American firms, consolidating their hold on the top of the list, are already doing this. Now it’s up to those who wish to be in their position to follow suit, (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.

The American Lawyer released their annual Global 100 report, a ranking of the world’s 100 largest law firms by gross revenue, profits per partner, and total attorney headcount. Overall, gross revenue grew by 2.8 percent for The Global 100, and profits per partner increased, on average, by 0.5 percent. Attorney headcount also saw an increase this year, with an annual growth of 2.7 percent.

American firms accounted for 81 of the world’s top-grossing firms, matching a record set in last year’s survey, the report revealed. The remaining places are filled by 12 British firms, three from Canada, two from China, one from Australia and one from South Korea. According to the report, this is the second time in the history of Am Law’s global rankings that U.S.-based firms occupy the top five spots.

Latham & Watkins reigns in at No. 1 again this year, with the highest gross revenue of The Global 100. Baker & McKenzie retained the No. 2 spot, leading the top 5 in terms of total attorney headcount with 4,719 attorneys. Kirkland & Ellis advanced two spots to No. 3 this year, thanks to a 15% increase in gross revenue and 14% jump in profits per partner. Skadden Arps remained in its respective spot from last year, coming in at number 4. DLA Piper, on the other hand, dropped two places this year to claim the No. 5 spot, after a 3% decrease in total revenue.

See the full rankings and highlights from The Global 100 on The American Lawyer.

Contact Bill Sugarman for more information.