The Beltway is no longer a barrier against the pitfalls of a down economy. The majority of Washington’s top-grossing law firms saw revenues slide in 2009, and 2010 isn’t shaping up to be a strong year either, firm leaders say.

The National Law Journal D.C. 25 survey, our annual ranking of the top moneymakers among Washington law offices, found that, for the first time in 11 years, the combined gross revenue for Washington’s largest firms declined, falling 2.7 percent to $5.9 billion. In all, 17 Washington offices reported decreases in their revenue last year, compared to seven in 2008. Put another way, Washington’s largest firms lost more than $163.9 million in 2009 — roughly the same amount a firm the size of O’Melveny & Myers collects in D.C. Many firms were able to keep their profits per equity partner in the black by reducing headcount. Even then, overall PPP was down 0.5 percent to $1.27 million.

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