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Midsize Law Firms Beat Bigger Counterparts by Keeping Revenue Flat

Posted May 29, 2009 6:58 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Bigger isn’t always better.

The top 100 law firms saw an average revenue decline of 1.2 percent last year, compared to flat numbers for law firms in the second hundred, the American Lawyer reports. The publication sees the percentages as something of a vindication for the somewhat smaller firms that had been criticized for being too big to compete with boutiques and too small to match their bigger counterparts.

“What's more, the firms that outperformed were the ones that pointedly ignored The Am Law 100's usual recipe for growth—relentless focus on the most lucrative markets, practices and clients,” the story says. “This time around, it was second hundred firms based in middle markets that showed the most growth.”

In Milwaukee for example, revenue per lawyer increased by an average of 3.2 percent for second hundred firms. In Indianapolis and Kansas City, Mo., the gains were 3.1 percent and 7.9 percent, respectively.

Many of the second hundred firms managed to boost revenue with practice areas that include labor and employment, trusts and estates, and environmental law, the story says.

Some firms with good showings included Snell & Wilmer, with an 8.6 increase in revenue per lawyer; Lathrop & Gage, with a 7.8 percent increase; Ice Miller, with a 7.8 percent increase; and Stinson Morrison Hecker, with a 17 percent increase.

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