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The AmLaw 100 Firms: Partying Like It?s 1991

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  • The AmLaw 100 Firms: Partying Like It?s 1991

    For those of us who cover the law and law firms, the day the AmLaw 100 rankings come out isn’t exactly our Super Bowl Sunday, but it’s still fairly exciting. (Maybe a ‘Mildly Super-ish Wednesday?’) Granted, it’s not like the old days, when AmLaw and only AmLaw reported the numbers (and in July, not May) — now numbers start leaking out in various publications around the first of the year. But for us, the AmLaw numbers remain the most authoritative and reliable snapshot of how the nation’s big law firms held up during the previous year.

    Which brings us to 2008. The numbers, out today on the American Lawyer’s Web site[/URL], are arguably some of the more interesting to emerge in years upon years, largely because the firms didn’t just experience a yet-another across-the-board 5 percent bump in profitability. To the contrary. As anyone knows who follows this blog or a handful of others, 2008 was grim.
    The results are wrapped up rather neatly in this piece[/URL] by Aric Press and John O’Connor. They write:
    Last year, overall gross revenue grew by 4.1 percent, to $67 billion, a new record. But head count grew faster, increasing by 5.4 percent, to 81,992 lawyers. As a result of that growth, plus a serious drop in demand during the second half of 2008 for high-end work–especially in the corporate and finance sectors–profits per partner (PPP) fell by 4.3 percent, to an average of $1.26 million, and revenue per lawyer (RPL) dropped 1.2 percent, to $818,000.

    According to Press and O’Connor’s piece, it was the first time since 1991 that average profits per partner and revenue per lawyer dipped among the Am Law 100 firms. And, they say, “given the weakness in the market thus far in 2009, another decline seems likely this year.”

    The top 10 in gross revenue: 1. Skadden - $2.20 billion; 2. Baker & McKenzie - $2.19b; 3. Latham - $1.92b; 4. Jones Day - $1.54b; 5. Sidley Austin - $1.49 b; 6. White & Case - $1.47b; 7. Kirkland - $1.4b; 8. Mayer Brown - $1.29b; 9. Weil Gotshal - $1.23b; 10. Greenberg Traurig - $1.20b.

    The top 10 in profits-per-partner: 1. Wachtell - $4.01 million; 2. Quinn Emanuel - $3.34m; 3. Boies Schiller - $3.07m; 4. Sullivan & Cromwell - $2.94m; 5. Paul Weiss - $2.67m; 6. Cravath - $2.52m; 7. Simpson Thacher - $2.48m; 8. Kirkland - $2.47m; 9. Cleary - $2.4m; Schulte Roth - $2.29m.

    The top 10 in revenue-per-lawyer: 1. Wachtell - $2.46 million; 2. Sullivan & Cromwell - $1.48m; 3. Cravath - $1.21m; 3. (tie) Davis Polk - $1.21m; 5. Debevoise - $1.205m; 6. Boies Schiller - $1.18m; 7. Simpson Thacher - $1.13m; 8. Quinn Emanuel - $1.105m; 8. (tie) Skadden - $1.105m; 10. Milbank Tweed - $1.07m; 10. (tie) Paul Weiss - $1.07m.

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