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Big Law has grown international offices disproportionately despite overseas markets being lower profitability than their U.S. counterparts. The logic presumably is that a global footprint differentiates a firm’s client offerings and leads to a strengthening of the firm’s U.S. practices. However, the data show no evidence of this happening. In fact, there’s evidence the reverse is occurring: the strength of the U.S. practices of many preeminent global firms is losing ground to rivals. This is a critical warning for firms that aspire to grow internationally; it’s also a critical call-to-action for already-global firms: refocus attention on U.S. partners and practices now.


In total, Am Law 100 firms today have 1,500 less U.S. lawyers, and 6,550 more international lawyers, than they did in 2007[1]. This is seriously disproportionate growth. A quarter of Am Law 100 lawyers now work outside the U.S., compared with one sixth a decade ago. Only 14 Am Law 100 firms now don’t have an international office, down from 22 a decade ago.

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