The National Law Journal reported overall headcount at the nation’s 250 largest law firms fell for a second straight year. Following last year’s 4 percent drop, the survey found firms trimmed another 1,400 lawyers from its payroll this year, which equates to a 1.1 percent decrease from 2009. The two-year combined drop is the largest decline in the survey’s 33-year history and is just the second time overall headcount dropped for two consecutive years.
According to the report, the vast majority of cuts was in the associates ranks, which fell by nearly 1,000 lawyers. The number of partners at the nation’s biggest firms increased by 0.6 percent to an average of 215. Overall, headcount at NLJ 250 firms totaled 126,299 lawyers.
Baker & McKenzie was rated once again the nation’s largest firm with 3,774 attorneys, which was a decline of 175 from the previous year. Baker & McKenzie was also among four firms to shed more than 100 lawyers in the last year along with White & Case (198), Latham & Watkins (147) and Morgan Lewis & Bockius (109).
Firms with the biggest increase in number of lawyers included Ropes & Gray, which saw its headcount increase by 21.6 percent; and Baker Hostetler, which grew by 12.6 percent. The biggest declines came at Butzel Long and Fish & Richardson which each saw a 17.7 percent drop in its lawyer roster.