American Lawyer released its top 100 law firms Thursday and, as it notes in its summary of the rankings, things certainly could have been worse in 2009. Profits per equity partner, which increased 0.3 percent last year to $1.26 million, was the lone category that showed improvement of the rankings’ four traditional measuring sticks. And while gross revenue, head count and revenue per lawyer were all down, “the bad results weren’t nearly as dire as many firms had feared just a year ago, American Lawyer reports.
Taking a closer look at the four categories we find that Baker & McKenzie was the highest revenue-grossing firm last year with just over $2.1 billion. It supplants Skadden to take the top spot for the first time since 1994. Eleven firms topped $1 billion in gross revenue, including K&L Gates, which reached the level for the first time.
Overall, total revenue was off by 3.4 percent, with the firms grossing a total of $64.8 billion, down roughly $2.3 billion from the prior year.
More than half, 56 firms, showed drops in revenue per lawyer, which the report notes is “our best measure of a firm’s financial health.” Debevoise & Plimpton had the biggest decline at 19.1 percent, which dropped them out of the top 10.
Revenue per lawyer was down $15,697, to $802,381, a 2 percent fall. This was the second consecutive year in which RPL fell.
A total of 54 firms reduced their head counts last year, cutting more than 3,000 lawyers overall.
As for profits per partner, 16 firms had PPP exceeding $2 million in 2009. That is the same number as 2008, though that group has seen some changes. Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft and Davis Polk & Wardwell replaced Debevoise & Plimpton and Dechert in that group.
The Top 10 firms based on revenue:
Baker & McKenzie, $2.11 billion
Skadden, $2.10 billion
Latham & Watkins, $1.82 billion
Jones Day $1.52 billion
Kirkland & Ellis $1.43 billion
Sidley Austin, $1.35 billion
White & Case, $1.3 billion
Weil Gotshal, $1.23 billion
Greenberg Traurig $1.17 billion
Mayer Brown, $1.12 billion