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by Vault Law Editors | April 29, 2010


The annual AmLaw 100 rankings were released today, and even though David Lat said, “This is an exciting day” the internets, for the most part, said “meh.” To be sure, the news is bad, but it’s also not really that bad. Three of the four key metrics—gross revenue, head count and revenue per lawyer—fell, while profits per equity partner (PPP) barely increased by 0.3 percent, or $3,463, to $1.26 million.

Aric Press posits two main reasons for the slight uptick in PPP:

Firms aggressively reduced expenses in 2009. And, the number of equity partners in The Am Law 100 dropped. There were 139 fewer of them, down 0.73 percent, to a total of 18,808. By contrast, the number of nonequity partners increased by 640; collectively they now constitute a record 37.9 percent of all Am Law 100 partners.

In other words, fewer people to share pie with = more pie.

Press also sees evidence of two broader, underlying developments:

1.   “The segmentation of The Am Law 100 continues.” The firms with the highest PPP experienced the highest increase to PPP.  The front of the pack are leaving the pack farther behind.

2.   “Is there life in the old business model?” Maybe so…if one discounts the dizzy heights of the irrationally exuberant years of 2007 and 2008, the AmLaw 100 has experienced a steady upward progression over the last 3 years: 11 percent bigger, 3 percent up on RPL, and up 5 percent up on PPP.

Bonus Fun BigLaw Fact!

Baker & McKenzie edged Skadden by a mere $10 million for the No. 1 position for gross revenue. They are the only two firms that grossed more than $2 billion. And yet…Baker & McKenzie has roughly twice the number of total lawyers as Skadden.

-posted by brian


Filed Under: Law

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