Law Firms

Am Law 100 firms make modest gains in revenue and profits: Is the legal market recovering?

Am Law 100 law firms overall had low single-digit year-over-year increases in all major metrics, the American Lawyer magazine reported in its annual survey.

Gross revenue was up 3.4 percent, average revenue per lawyer was up 2.6 percent, and average profits per partner were up 4.2 percent, American Lawyer reported.

“At the same time, we did not see any sort of retrenchment in terms of headcount,” Robin Sparkman, editor-in-chief of the American Lawyer, told Bloomberg Law’s Lee Pacchia in an interview Thursday. “So that’s also a fundamentally good sign.”

Pacchia asked Sparkman whether the results indicate that the recession has bottomed out for BigLaw.

BigLaw is intricately tied to the global economy, Sparkman said. “So as long as the global economy continues to do well, BigLaw will continue to do well.”

The firms’ recovery was uneven, however—only 76 of the surveyed firms actually reported revenue increases, the American Lawyer reported in a summary. “The lucky ones tended to have an international footprint, a strong transactions group, and a diverse set of practice areas, though boutique labor and employment and immigration firms also fared well.”

With more than $2.4 billion in gross revenue, DLA Piper topped that ranking for the first time: Only Skadden, Arps, Meagher & Flom or Baker & McKenzie had ever previously topped the list. Watchtell was tops in revenue per lawyer ($2.47 million) and profits per partner ($4.98 million).

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