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The results of our annual survey of the top revenue-generating law offices in the D.C. area yielded a strange brew of market phenomena. Combined gross for all D.C. 20 firms for 2004 was $3.93 billion — a 6 percent increase over 2003 — and overall head count increased last year, from 5,352 in ’03 to 5,415 in ’04. There was one notable area in which many firms saw a dip: the number of equity partners. According to the survey, the number of equity partners has declined 10 percent over 2003 stats — from 1,638 in ’03 to to 1,480 in ’04. There were 543 non-equity partners at D.C. 20 firms in 2004 compared with 433 in 2003 — a 25 percent increase. Yet the drop in the number of equity partners and the rise in the non-equity ranks failed to nudge up the area’s average profits per partner, which stood at a relatively unchanged $935,000. Average revenue per lawyer, however, shot up $30,000, from $700,000 in ’03 to $730,000. Odd, isn’t it? More associates working at a higher rate of productivity with fewer stakeholders taking home a share of the revenue pie, and yet no skyrocketing PPP? Of course, these are just averages and some individual firms saw very different results. For a snapshot of the year that was for the firms, check out the profiles on them. As with our survey in previous years, we calculated financial figures based on the performance of a firm’s metro D.C. office. If a firm had more than one office in the D.C. area, we combined the revenues to reflect total revenue for this region. We defined the D.C. metro area as the District of Columbia, Northern Virginia, and Prince George’s and Montgomery counties in Maryland. Head counts of total lawyers and partners are as of Aug. 31, 2004, and include only full-time equivalent positions. Even when a firm cooperates in the survey, we make every effort to test the financial figures it provides. We not only do our own calculations, but also call current and former partners, clients, and competitors, and pore over court and public records to discern billing rates and compensation figures, among other things. - The Editors

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