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New York’s largest and wealthiest law firms grew fatter in 1999, logging hefty increases in both total revenue and profits-per-partner, The American Lawyer reports in its July issue. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, became the first firm in the nation to take in stratospheric revenues of more than $1 billion, according to the magazine, which ranks the nation’s 100 highest-grossing law firms each year. Skadden, which grew from 160 lawyers in 1978 to its current size of 1,322 lawyers by cherry-picking laterals, also saw its profits-per-partner balloon 16.1 percent to $1.6 million. The firm was one of 14 in New York and 17 in the nation where averaged profits-per-partner climbed to more than $1 million. In 1998, only 11 New York firms and 13 in the nation could make a similar claim. The dealmakers at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz are still the best compensated in the city. Profits-per-partner at the mergers and acquisitions firm climbed 14.2 percent to reach $3.385 million last year (see accompanying chart). The 147-lawyer firm, founded in 1965 by four New York University School of Law graduates, had the highest profits-per-partner in both New York and the country. Coming in second was Minneapolis’s Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi, still reaping a windfall from litigation against tobacco companies. Wachtell was not alone in its double-digit percentage increase of profits-per-partner. Twenty other New York firms on The American Lawyer’s top 100 also had increases of more than 10 percent in profits-per-partner and five New York firms had increases of more than 25 percent. Local firms with the highest increases are: Rogers & Wells, 38 percent; Brown & Wood, 33 percent; Chadbourne & Parke, 32.2 percent; Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, 27.5 percent; and Winthrop, Stimson, Putnam & Roberts, 25.8 percent. These figures were based on revenues for the calendar year ending Dec. 31, 1999. On Jan. 1, 2000 Rogers & Wells merged with the London firm of Clifford Chance, forming Clifford Chance Rogers & Wells. The only New York firm on the list where profits-per-partner declined was Wilson, Elser, Moskowitz, Edelman & Dicker; profits-per-partner decreased at the 449-lawyer firm by 6.7 percent, from $290,000 in 1998 to $270,000 last year. Rochester’s Nixon Peabody was a newcomer to the top 100 list. The 450-lawyer firm, born July 1, 1999 as the result of a merger between Nixon, Hargrave, Devans & Doyle of Rochester and Peabody & Brown of Boston, came in as the 73rd highest-grossing firm and had profits-per-partner of $380,000. Falling off the list this year was the 182-lawyer Hughes Hubbard & Reed. In 1998, Hughes Hubbard was ranked 94 based on a gross revenue of $110,000,000 and profits-per-partner of $420,000. While New York firms dominated the top of the list, northern California firms showed tremendous growth. Profits-per-partner increased by 156.9 percent at San Francisco’s Graham & James ($775,000 in 1999), 44.4 percent at Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison ($855,000 in 1999), 44.2 percent at Pillsbury Madison & Sutro ($505,000 in 1999) and 34.6 percent at Palo Alto’s Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati ($835,000 in 1999).

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