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Through the late 1990s, driven by double-digit growth at Silicon Valley tech firms, Bay Area law firms led the nation in terms of profit growth. In 2001, the region’s fortunes took an abrupt turn.

The annual list of the nation’s 100 biggest firms, ranked by revenue, published Monday in Recorder�affiliate The American Lawyer, shows that for the first time in at least a decade, the region saw a decline in profits. It was the only region to do so. (See related charts: California’s Top 10and California’s Am Law 100 Firms.)�

With eight San Francisco and Silicon Valley firms making the list, the region’s average profits per partner dropped by 5.5 percent. In contrast, Los Angeles swelled its profits by 16.7 percent, Chicago by 8.9 percent and N.Y. by a squeaky 3.5 percent.�

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