Business of Law

K&L Gates posts 2012 financial results online; will other major law firms follow suit?

Once upon a time, law firms didn’t publicly disclose their financial results and what partners and associates were paid. Then, in recent decades, as legal publications pushed for numbers that readers were eager to see, annual surveys listing revenue, the average profit per partner and associate salaries became commonplace.

Now, in a move that may signal the dawning of a new era in the way law firm financial results are reported, K&L Gates has announced its 2012 figures online, as Legal Week, the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) and the New York Times DealBook blog, among other news media, have noted.

The financial results posted on the firm’s website meet Securities and Exchange Commission standards and chairman Peter Kalis said the decision to publish was prompted, at least in part, by last year’s collapse of Dewey & LeBoeuf.

Dewey, which is now in a record-setting Chapter 11 bankruptcy, has been accused of providing inaccurate financial information both to at least some of its partners and to an American Lawyer survey.

“The entire industry was tarred by Dewey, and the industry’s opacity and misleading statistics magnified the Dewey effect for all of us,” Kalis told the Times in an email. “We wanted to head in a new direction and to promote change toward an informed transparency.”

K&L Gates showed essentially flat revenue since 2011 in the material posted online and a reduction in the size of its attorney roster, from 1,910 lawyers to 1,748, despite opening two new offices. The firm attributed the decline in lawyers to attrition.

Related coverage: “American Lawyer Lowers Dewey Financial Numbers by More than $150M” “Former Dewey Partner’s Suit Compares Firm Leaders’ Lateral Partner Recruitment to ‘Ponzi Scheme’” “Defendant Dewey Leader Calls Ex-Partner’s ‘Ponzi Scheme’ Suit ‘Sad,’ Says Plaintiff Got Bigger Bucks” “Claimed bank loan for $540K Dewey capital payment a ‘fabrication,’ says ex-partner in suit”

Updated at 4:40 p.m. to include link to Wall Street Journal article.

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