Law firms large and small shuttered in 2019. Some, like LeClairRyan, were done in by mounting expenses and waves of defections. Others, like the intellectual property boutique McCaulley Dowell, were driven to close up shop by pressures that most other firms didn’t face. Meanwhile, a spate of small firms closed after their leading partners split.
Am Law 200 firm LeClairRyan was 2019’s biggest failure. While head count rose in the decade before the firm’s collapse, its profits were stagnant, with costs rising in step with revenues. The firm missed budget in 2011 and several subsequent years. With partner defections mounting— including name partner Gary LeClair, who joined Williams Mullen in July—the firm filed for bankruptcy in September, after having tallied 273 lawyers the year before.
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