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Law firm financial performance finished 2017 on a positive note, with a larger segment of the legal market contributing to upward trends in revenue and profits than in recent years, according to a new report by Wells Fargo Private Bank’s Legal Specialty Group.

The report, drawn from a survey of 160 firms, reported that law firm revenue and profits were up between 3 percent and 4 percent for the legal market overall. Firms in the Am Law 50 reported revenue growth of 6.8 percent in 2017, while the Am Law 100 as a whole reported a 5.26 percent increase in revenue. Firms in the Am Law Second Hundred saw a smaller revenue uptick of 2.33 percent in 2017, the report revealed (as quoted in The American Lawyer).

“The enthusiasm is derived from a slight-to-moderate improvement in transactional activity,” the Wells Fargo report said. “Most believe the corporate tax changes and a general improvement in our economy will buoy corporate, M&A, capital markets, and other transactional work.”

See highlights from the full article on The American Lawyer.

Contact Bill Sugarman for more information.

The American Lawyer just released the results of the most recent Am Law 100, their annual financial report of the top 100 U.S. law firms.  Overall, the data revealed only slight increases for the firms overall, with the average profits per partner increasing 4 percent since 2014 and the total net income up by 3.3 percent.  Latham & Watkins claimed the number one slot for gross revenue for the second year in the row, with an impressive $2.65 billion over the last-place contender’s $332 million (Kramer Levin).  The ever-growing Polsinelli tied with Locke Lord for the biggest change in their Am Law 100 rankings, each increasing by twelve spots from the previous year.  And predictably, major big law firms Latham, Greenberg Traurig, Mayer Brown, and Reed Smith worked their attorneys to the bone to claim the most billable hours in 2015, with DLA Piper leading the pack at over 5.5 million hours–an astonishing 2 million-plus hours over the second-place Latham.

See more of the highlights from the 2016 Am Law 100 on The American Lawyer.

Contact Bill Sugarman for more information.

Mega-firm Reed Smith had a rough year in 2015, The American Lawyer reports–a year that perhaps led to the highly publicized 45-lawyer layoff in January 2016.  According to their annual Am Law 100 report, gross revenue fell 2.5 percent, revenue per lawyer went down by 1.4 percent, and profits per partner declined an alarming 8.3 percent.

However, global managing partner Sandy Thomas called the results “solid,” and told press that the layoffs were simply an “efficiency measure,” although he also referred to the slumping commodities market, noting that “we are not immune,” (as quoted in The American Lawyer).

BTI Consulting recently analyzed over 300 law firms to identify the key characteristics shared by the most profitable law firms, observing that while “rates can help…the outsized profits come from behaviors, strategies, and culture.”

On the client side, these behaviors include concentrating the firm’s focus in certain practice areas or industries, targeting clients that tend to have a continuous stream of work, and proactively engaging with and discussing the clients’ business, even before active matters arise.

BTI also found that the most profitable firms encourage socialization among partners, in order to create a collegial environment that encourages cross-selling and collaboration for increased business development.  They conclude that “the more you can push the behaviors and strategy into the culture–the better your profits.”

See the other habits and read more here.