Since the early days of the Global 100 survey, globalization and profit have seemingly grown hand in hand. For our top 50 firms in 1999–the first year that we published profits per partner for what was then the Global 50–the proportion of lawyers employed outside each firm’s home country doubled, while profits per partner more than doubled. But whether there is a causal relationship between global expansion and financial success is unclear, whether one charts the performance of individual firms in a single year or over time. Star performers may be found among the most stubborn homebodies, like Slaughter and May, and the most persistent imperialists, like Allen & Overy.

“There is a very distinct correlation between multijurisdictional work and profitability,” says A&O senior partner David Morley. Slaughter practice partner Paul Olney counters that a strategy centered on one jurisdiction “can deliver equally effective international results,” and, he need not add, superior financial results.

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