Business of Law

A growing stratification of law firms? Survey finds revenue ranged from 20% growth to 21% decline


Reports on law firm revenues show a growing divide among firms.

Law firm revenue grew by 2.5 percent last year, according to a survey of 180 law firms by Citi Private Bank, but that number doesn’t tell the whole story. The survey found that the top-grossing 50 firms did substantially better than other segments of the market, and global firms with a strong international presence saw the biggest increases in revenue. The Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) has the story.

A different survey of 115 firms by Wells Fargo Private Bank found a divide in law firm revenues last year that ranged from a 20 percent increase to a 21 percent decline, the article says.

“There is no question that the stratification of firms has widened,” legal consultant Brad Hildebrandt told the Wall Street Journal. He said top firms do the best in a bad economy because clients see those firms as a safe bet.

Jeff Grossman, senior director of banking for Wells Fargo Private Bank, told the newspaper that firms with big-ticket litigation continue to do well. He has also seen a resurgence in firms with private-equity and corporate practices.

The American Lawyer has been reporting on 2013 firm revenues as the results come in. So far the results have ranged from a 7 percent drop at Irell & Manella to a 16 percent increase at Munger, Tolles & Olson. Two firms have released their declining numbers ahead of the American Lawyer report. Revenue dropped about 12 percent at at Patton Boggs and at Bingham McCutchen. Both firms said resolution of major litigation affected their numbers.

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