NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The nation’s 100 largest law firms achieved modest cumulative growth in 2012, gaining 3.4% in total gross revenue over the prior year to $73.4 billion, 2.6% in average revenue per lawyer to $844,245, and 4.2% in average profits per partner to $1.47 million, according to the 26th annual Am Law 100 report published in the May issue of ALM’s The American Lawyer and at AmericanLawyer.com.
However, 2012’s gains were uneven, with only 76 firms showing gross revenue increases, down from 80 in 2011, and 66 registering higher profits per partner, down from 72. In addition, profitability gains were concentrated among the higher-grossing firms. The 50 largest firms registered a cumulative 8.0% jump in profits per partner while the others fell 3.3%.
DLA Piper, powered by an 8.6% gross revenue spurt, topped the Am Law 100 with $2.44 billion, pushing former leader Baker & McKenzie, with $2.31 billion, into second place. Latham & Watkins with $2.23 billion took over third place from Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom with $2.21 billion. Kirkland & Ellis retained fifth place. Jones Day took over sixth from Hogan Lovells, which fell to seventh. Sidley Austin held steady in eighth place as did White & Case in ninth. Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher moved up to 10th place from 12th in 2011.
The law firms that prospered last year “tended to have an international footprint, a strong transactions group, and a diverse set of practice areas," wrote Robin Sparkman, Editor in Chief of The American Lawyer. "The boutique labor and employment and immigration firms were the exception.”
"Many of these firms also have a strong brand and are known by clients for standout work in a particular area," Sparkman added. "The firms that did well also held the line on their equity partner head count and continued to raise rates, increase billable hours, or both. Some stood out for capitalizing on high-growth industries.”
Among the stand-out firm performers, for better or worse, were:
- Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton, whose profits per partner leaped 36.5% due to a contingency class action payment in a Native American royalties rights case.
- Bracewell & Giuliani, which scored the group’s largest profits per partner increase, 42.2%, based on high demand from their energy industry client list.
- Immigration-focused Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy, which rose 16 ranks to number 86, its first-ever appearance on the Am Law 100.
- Barnes & Thornburg, Chadbourne & Parke, Cozen O’Connor and Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker fell out of the Am Law 100. Chadbourne was a 26-year veteran.
About The Am Law 100
The American Lawyer’s Am Law 100 has been recognized as the definitive public ranking of financial performance for the nation’s largest law firms since its introduction in 1987. Am Law 100/200 metrics are primary benchmarks for law firms seeking to assess their competitive position in the marketplace. Am Law 100 spreadsheet data is available for online purchase at www.almlegalintelligence.com. In June, The American Lawyer will publish its rankings of the second hundred largest firms.
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