Our latest annual survey of the biggest U.S. firms by headcount, shows that, on the whole, large firms added attorneys again last year. But the increases weren’t universal. In fact, 109 firms recorded declines in headcount this year.

The growth wasn’t evenly distributed among types of lawyers, either. The number of nonequity partners spiked by nearly 8 percent. Equity partner ranks, on the other hand, declined 1.6 percent. Firms, it seems, were willing to increase overhead (presumably to handle more work and retain veterans), but not so inclined to open the profit pool to more players. Continue reading editor-in-chief David Brown’s note to readers.

The Big Picture
The nation’s largest firms gained more than 2,000 lawyers in 2011. But growth was concentrated in a few sectors.

New to the Survey
We examine a dozen firms that entered or returned to this year’s NLJ 250. What factors are driving their growth?

Quinn’s Rise
Quinn Emanuel added 190 lawyers last year—the biggest nonmerger increase among the NLJ 250.
 

BY THE NUMBERS

The NLJ 250
Our annual ranking of the nation’s 250 largest law firms. Plus: Data on partners, associates and other attorneys.