Welcome to the 18th installment of PaLAW: Annual Report on the Legal Profession. In this space last year, we spoke of the publication’s new design and continued commitment to providing accurate, detailed and informative data on as many facets of the legal profession as we could fit in these pages.

Our hope is that you can clearly see those efforts again bore fruit in this latest edition, which has tracked a legal community in recovery. As we have focused our efforts in the last year on collecting data about private law firms, public corporations and public interest firms, to name a few things, the legal profession has been focused on how to emerge from a recession that has drastically altered some ways of doing business while allowing other old habits to creep back to the fore.

Layoffs and hiring reductions continue to recede while rate and salary increases are on the rise. Firms continue to function with fewer attorneys – in Pennsylvania, at least. Reed Smith again topped the 100 Largest Law Firms in Pennsylvania list with 311 full-time attorneys in the state, compared to the 323 lawyers that garnered the firm the top spot in 2010.

As Ward Bower points out in his article on page 94, firms have little left to cut in the way of expenses, making revenue generation a tough prospect in 2012. One way to garner more revenue, he points out, is through a merger, but fewer respondents to this year’s Managing Partners Survey said they were actively seeking a merger partner.

One area that may still have room for some trimming is the partner ranks — the fastest way, consultants have said, to improve the bottom line. Though firms are not rushing to cut or de-equitize partners in any dramatic fashion, they are looking at doing so at an increased rate from last year.

That and a number of other interesting takeaways can be found from the analysis of the survey, including some impressive financial results for law firms in the last two years. And reporter Zack Needles has a roundup of specific financial results from 2010 for the state’s largest law firms.

There is one big change to the publication this year. We are sad to say that Jaime Bochet, our magazines and supplements editor, has moved on for a new and exciting career endeavor. We can’t thank Jaime enough for her work in shaping PaLAW 2011 and the several editions before it. We promise that her dedication is one entrenched in the institution’s culture — one we hope will remain visible on the coming pages and in future editions as we constantly work to improve the end product.

To that end, we welcome our new magazines and supplements editor, Ben Seal, who joins us from the sports desk of The Trentonian with the same ability to juggle projects and fine-tune a product that has driven the success of this publication in previous years.

This publication and its many moving parts could not have been pulled together without the help of some very dedicated, detail-oriented colleagues. Art Director Karen Leddy painstakingly lays out each of the charts, graphs and articles, adding her own refined style that hopefully makes these pages easy to read as well as easy on the eyes.

Director of Information Technology Brian Harris generates the surveys you are all nice enough to fill out as well as compiles the data we receive from a number of different sources. Super-intern Brooke McDonald has helped with editing every step of the way, further ensuring the data you see is as accurate as possible.

As much of the data you are about to read is a snapshot of where firms currently stand, we welcome your ideas for how we can look ahead and provide you with the most useful information. As the practice of law evolves, so too should this publication. We look forward to hearing you insights and suggestions in the coming year.

Gina Passarella
Senior Staff Reporter and Special Projects Editor