This is The National Law Journal's 31st annual survey of the nation's 250 largest law firms, covering the period of Oct. 1, 2007, to Sept. 30, 2008. While most of the charts in the NLJ 250 are self-explanatory, here is some information about the process, the criteria and the definitions.
The NLJ sent surveys to approximately 300 law firms and solicited survey submissions to determine the 250 largest.
Eligibility for the NLJ 250 is based on a firm's total number of attorneys, not including contract or temporary attorneys. The cutoff point this year is 174. Also, a firm must have more lawyers based in the United States than in any other single country to qualify.
Firms are ranked by the total number of full-time equivalent (FTE) attorneys, rather than just full-time attorneys. In some cases, due to rounding, this calculation resulted in slightly higher or lower numbers than the figures submitted by the law firms.
In case of a tie, we rank firms by the actual number of attorneys, before rounding. If a tie still exists, we rank firms by the total number of partners and then by the number of equity partners. The city listed under the firm name is the firm's principal or largest office.
"Number of attorneys" reflects permanent, FTE attorneys. The first column in the "Partners" category is the total number of partners, including the nonequity partners (NE) listed in the adjacent column. The same is true for the chart reflecting overall partner and nonequity partner growth.
The "Other" category includes the total number of nonpartner, nonassociate lawyers at the firm. Generally, this includes counsel, of counsel, senior counsel and staff attorneys.
In some instances, NLJ 250 firms merged. In those cases, the 2007 data are taken from the firm that was larger.
"Starting salary" lists the base salary for a first-year associate. Some firms vary depending on branch office.
A "WND" or "N/A" in any column indicates that the firm would not disclose the data or it was not available. The "Branch Offices" section lists the total number of attorneys in each city where the firm has offices. A zero indicates that less than one full-time attorney works in that city.
Minor discrepancies between the total number of attorneys at a firm and the total number of attorneys reported in branch offices are due to rounding FTE figures.
Firms marked with an asterisk have data obtained from the National Association for Law Placement online 2008/2009 Directory of Legal Employers as of October 2008. Firms marked with a plus sign have data obtained from the firm's Web site as of October 2008.
Incisive Media Research Editor Rosemarie Clancy oversaw the NLJ 250 survey project. Data analyst John O'Connor conducted the research with research assistant Jeuneille Chand.