Despite a record-breaking year for big-ticket M&A work, the most profitable New York-based firms saw much slower earnings and turnover growth on average in 2015. Those with a heavy banking and private equity clientele were whipsawed by withering financial crisis-related banking litigation, a capital markets drought beginning in July and a lengthening wait for fees, according to several firm leaders.

Revenue growth for a benchmark group of 17 elite New York-based firms averaged 2.3 percent last year, down from 4.5 percent for the same firms in 2014. Profits per equity partner increased by an average of 2.6 percent, compared with 5.6 percent in 2014. None of the firms experienced double-digit increases in revenues, compared with three firms a year earlier. And two of them, Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft and Cahill Gordon & Reindel, experienced a third straight year of declining profitability.

(Click here to scroll directly to our interactive chart showing profits per partner, PPP growth and revenue growth for all 17 firms in our sample.)

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