Law Firms

Record Profits in '09 For Biggest Boston Firms

Despite economic woes and layoffs in Boston’s legal sector, senior lawyers from three of the city’s largest firms are reporting they had their most profitable year ever in 2009.

Bingham McCutchen, Fish & Richardson, and WilmerHale told the Boston Globe that they recorded their highest average profits per partner last year. The paper notes that other firms there also reported better-than-expected financial results.

“What we’ve seen in 2009 is that profits held up well because of significant cost-saving measures,’’ Brion Bickerton, a legal recruiter for search firm Major Lindsey & Africa, told the Globe. “Those measures were the difference between profits being up, and profits being down 10 to 20 percent.’’

Cost-saving measures included slashing more than 200 lawyer jobs in Boston and a similar number of support staff employed by the city’s five largest firms.

Those reporting down profits include Goodwin Procter, which told the Globe that revenue and profit per partner were down by 3 percent to $658 million and $1.3 million. Revenue at Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge dropped 8.7 percent to $287.5 million.

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