International Law

Wachtell PPP Again Tops Global 100, at $4.35M, Followed by Quinn Emanuel, at $3.62M

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Law firms headquartered in the United States continue to dominate the Global 100 list compiled by American Lawyer of the world’s top-earning law firms over the most recent fiscal year.

Baker & McKenzie remains in the number-one spot on the 2011 list, with gross revenue of $2.265 billion, followed by Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, also number-two last year, which brought in $2.1 billion.

After that, the firms mix it up a bit, compared to their 2010 rankings. Clifford Chance drops to the number-five spot, with $1.884 billion, down from number three last year. It is replaced by DLA Piper as the third biggest-earning firm, which brought in $1.961 billion.

In fourth position is Latham & Watkins, which booked $1.929 billion. Last year the firm was fifth.

But the American Lawyer’s list of average profits per partner for the Global 100, as always, tells a somewhat different story, with perennial PPP leader Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz once again atop the list at $4.35 million. In second place, following an apparently sizzling year, is California-based litigation firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan. Its PPP was $3.62 million.

Both firms had similar gross revenue: $580 million for Wachtell and $551 million for Quinn Emanuel.

They were followed on the partner-earnings list by Sullivan & Cromwell; Cravath Swaine & Moore; and Kirkland & Ellis. The three had PPP, respectively, of $3.25 million, $3.17 million and $3.08 million.

Skadden was 12th on the list, with PPP of $2.32 million.

Baker & McKenzie was in 56th place, with PPP of $1.2 million.

Revenue was up 3 percent among the Global 100 this year, and the average PPP was nearly $1.5 million. More than two thirds of the firms had PPP of over $1 million.

In an article summarizing the Global 100 survey results, the American Lawyer called it a very good year but noted that global expansion, once thought to be the key to top profits, is no longer clearly the recipe for success.

Several Australian firms that did well benefited from a strong currency, the article points out.

Related coverage: (Oct. 2010): “List of Top Firms Has ‘an American Accent’; Baker & McKenzie Is No. 1” (Sept. 2009): “Revenue Per Lawyer Drops 3 Percent at Global 100 Law Firms” (April 2011): “BigLaw Money Machine Revs Up Again: PPP Rose 8.4% at Am Law 100 in 2010, to Average $1.36M” (Sept. 2011): “Quinn Emanuel’s Decision to Avoid Banking Clients Is Paying Off”

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