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The American Lawyer released its annual A-List rankings of the top 20 “most well-rounded” law firms in the United States. According to the report, law firms are ranked based on a combination of financial and cultural factors including revenue per lawyer, pro bono commitment, racial diversity, associate satisfaction and gender diversity among the equity partnership level. The last metric was added to A-List’s calculation in 2017 to recognize firms for supporting women and making them partners.

In a year that’s been marked by upheaval and uncertainty, there’s also plenty of continuity in the upper reaches of the A-List. For the second year in a row, Munger Tolles & Olson claimed the No.1 spot on this year’s list, while landing in the top five for a fifth time in the last five years. Ropes & Gray landed the No. 2 spot, improving across all five categories, most notably associate satisfaction. At O’Melveny & Myers, improvements in the firm’s metrics for racially diverse attorneys and women in the equity partnership fueled a four-place jump into the No. 3 position, marking the firm’s third straight year in the Top 10 and its fifth time on the list in the last five years.

Los Angeles-based Manatt, Phelps & Phillips returned to this year’s list following two years off, rising seven places to No. 15, thanks to a 20.5-point improvement in the female equity partner category. Two more firms new to this year’s A-List rankings included Cravath Swaine & Moore (No.17), and Arnold & Porter (No.19). A few firms on the list made last year’s Top 20 but faced shortcomings in vital areas, forcing them off in 2020. Those four firms were Shearman & Sterling, Buckley, Milbank, and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett.

See more highlights from the A-List rankings on The American Lawyer.

Contact Bill Sugarman for more information.

The American Lawyer recently published results from its annual Am Law 200 report, noting that for the first time in years the second hundred largest grossing law firms matched the growth of the top one hundred in nearly every key financial metric. Overall, the Second Hundred increased gross revenue on average by 5 percent, profit per equity partner grew 4.6 percent, revenue per lawyer increased 2.9 percent, and overall headcount rose 2.1 percent.

According to the report, twenty-one Second Hundred firms saw double-digit revenue growth and forty firms saw revenue increase by more than five percent. Within those numbers, there were pronounced differences among different groups in the Second Hundred, as firms ranked 151 through 200 nearly doubled the growth of those ranked 101 through 150, posting a 7.2% revenue increase on average, compared with 3.9% for the top half of the list, the report notes.

Among the Second Hundred firms, Burr & Forman had the largest increase in revenue, jumping 14 spots to No. 155, up 32% from last year. Two firms dropped from the Am Law 100 to the Second Hundred this year: Baker Donelson (101) and Williams & Connolly (102). Meanwhile, three firms joined the Am Law 200: Cole Scott & Kissane (163); Hanson Bridgett (192); and Pryor Cashman (178).

Additionally, twenty-five Am Law 200 firms based or founded in the Midwest increased their revenue on average by 8% last year. Seven of them posted double-digit gains, far exceeding the average 5% growth the Am Law 200 and the 6% growth Chicago-based firms saw in 2018. Those seven firms were Barnes & Thornburg, Polsinelli, Ice MillerPorter Wright, Robins Kaplan, Benesch, and Spencer Fane.

“Now, as this year’s Second Hundred stare down another major financial crisis, one that will likely be worse than the last, they can learn from the lessons of the past: focus on strong leadership; stay nimble; capitalize on their smaller size; stick with growth strategies; and diversify services when appropriate. Faced with a daunting future, it could mean the difference between success and failure,” (as quoted in The American Lawyer).

See more highlights from The Am Law 200 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.

In a recent article, “The Rise of the Non-Equity Partner: Short Term Gain for Long Term Pain?,” James Willer, writing for Law.com, reports on the rise of non-equity partnership in today’s lateral market. According to ALM Intelligence, the number of non-equity partners across the Am Law 200 over the past ten years has increased by 36% from 17,086 to 23,166. On average, non-equity partners now represent a 44% share of the overall partnership at Am law 200 firms. This contrasts with 38% in 2009. In 2018 alone, 46% of Am Law 200 firms increased the proportion of non-equity partners within their overall partnership. By increasing non-equity numbers, while keeping equity partners relatively flat or at least growing incrementally, firms can maintain high-levels of Profits Per Equity Partner (PEP) and therefore bolster retainment of its top-performing equity partners, the article notes.

Accordingly, law firms in the top echelons of the legal market have come to realize how useful PEP can be as a competitive advantage in the lateral hiring market. For these firms, PEP is now not only one of the most important metrics at their disposal but provides the primary means to maintain a business model built largely on talent management, recruitment, and retention. This weaponizing of PEP has since trickled down to the rest of the market, as more firms begin to grapple with issues of retainment and retention of top performers. The result has been a market-wide shifting of the partnership model. Partnership adjustments are one of the few remaining mechanisms at the disposal of firms that can be reliably utilized to increase PEP expeditiously, (as quoted in Law.com).

The shift towards more non-equity partners is only likely to accelerate as the lateral hiring market’s requisite need for strong PEP growth intensifies, Willer notes. However, Willer cautions that firms should be wary of placing too much short-term emphasis on tweaking partnership structures. To do so runs this risk of losing sight of the need to ensure that more organic measures of long-term sustainability such as RPL growth and costs management still need to be adhered to. According to Willer, firms need to have in place clear strategies from the outset to secure and retain talent not just at the equity level, but across the full spectrum of partnership. This could include ensuring contributions to firm profitability or business development are effectively incentivized or having in place clear pathways of professional development, (as quoted in Law.com)

See highlights from the full article on Law.com.

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.

The American Lawyer released its annual A-List rankings of the top 20 “most well-rounded” law firms in the United States. According to the report, law firms are ranked based on a combination of financial and cultural factors including revenue per lawyer, pro bono commitment, racial diversity, associate satisfaction and percentage of female equity partners.

Munger Tolles ranked No. 1 on this year’s A-List. Climbing from last year’s No. 3 spot, the firm moved up due to high scores in revenue per lawyer, pro bono work, and number of female equity partners. Wilmer Cutler remained in the No.2 spot, improving in four of five categories. Slipping from 1st place last year, Ropes & Gray landed spot No. 3, declining across all categories. Washington, D.C.-based Buckley jumped nine spots to move onto this year’s A-List at No. 17, improving in three of the five categories, most notably associate satisfaction.

New firms added to this year’s A-List rankings included Hughes Hubbard & Reed (No.11), Gibson Dunn (No.13), and Buckley (No.17). A few firms on the list made last year’s Top 20 but faced short comings in vital areas, forcing them off in 2019. Those three firms included Akin Gump (No. 23), Patterson Belknap (No. 29), and Jenner & Block (No. 30).

Additionally, The American Lawyer released a list of the next 20 A-List firms (No. 21-40), The A-List Runners-Up. Washington D.C.-based Williams & Connolly jumped 35 spots to land 21st place, due to high scores in associate satisfaction, revenue per lawyer, and female equity partners. Appearing for the first time on this list, Proskauer Rose claimed 25th place, thanks to large improvements in associate satisfaction and female equity partners. Cravath Swaine & Moore jumped 16 spots to land 26th place, improving across all categories, particularly in revenue per lawyer, diversity and pro bono.

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.

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.