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Want to make tech lawyers cry? Remind them of just how good they had it last year. It will likely be a long time before they see the gains in profits and revenues like those reported in The American Lawyermagazine’s annual list of the 100 highest-grossing U.S. firms. The list shows that the 10 Bay Area firms included led the nation in growth in revenues and profitability. Given the tech economy’s slide, 2001 isn’t likely to bring such good news. But, for the time being, let’s focus on the positive. The biggest 100 firms grossed a combined $310.9 billion in revenue last year, a 17 percent increase over 1999. And much of that increase was driven by San Francisco Bay Area firms. On average, the Bay Area’s revenue growth of 36.9 percent dwarfed the gains logged by firms in several other major legal markets. New York firms grew revenues by 11.8 percent, Chicago bumped its gross by 9.6 percent and Los Angeles upped its take by 10 percent. Still, the biggest and most profitable firms in the nation in 1999 remained so in 2000. New York’s Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom was again the highest-grossing firm and the only one to break $1 billion in revenue. Skadden was followed by Baker & McKenzie ($940 million), Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue ($675 million), L.A.’s Latham & Watkins ($642.5 million) and New York’s Shearman & Sterling ($590 million). Meanwhile, Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz remains America’s most profitable firm with partners logging an average of $3.285 million each. It was followed by Minneapolis-based Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi ($2.79 million) and Cravath, Swaine & Moore ($2.25 million). However, like 14 other firms on the Am Law 100, Wachtell saw its profits-per-partner dwindle a bit. Its profits slid 2.9 percent. The largest drop was 9.9 percent — recorded by Boston’s Goodwin Procter. And the Bay Area saw the largest regional increase in profitability, seeing profits per partner climb 19.9 percent. That compares to New York’s average increase in profits of 7.8 percent and Chicago’s 3.5 percent uptick. Nationally, profits increased by 10.3 percent. Four firms landed on the Am Law 100 for the first time — including Palo Alto’s Fenwick & West. The 248-lawyer firm grew its revenues by 46.8 percent to $148 million, prompting a ranking of 97. The other newcomers are Seattle’s Preston Gates & Ellis (ranked 96), and two firms from Philadelphia: Blank Rome Comisky & McCauley (ranked 89) and Duane, Morris & Heckscher (ranked 92). Two San Francisco firms were among those bumped from the survey to make room for the newcomers. One of them, Graham & James, disbanded last year. But the other, Littler Mendelson, was pushed off the list because of flat revenues from labor and litigation work, The American Lawyersaid. When it came to revenue growth, Cooley Godward was second in the nation. The 583-lawyer Palo Alto firm swelled its annual gross by 62 percent, to $345 million, compared to a national average of 19.5 percent. The bump moved Cooley up 21 places to become the 30th largest firm. It’s growth trailed national leader Greenberg Traurig by just three-tenths of a percentage point. “It’s a tribute to the incredibly hard work of our attorneys — and to some extent, being in the right markets both geographically and on an industry basis,” said Mark Pitchford, a Cooley partner and the firm’s chief operating officer. Cooley was also in the right place at the right time, Pitchford said. “We were the beneficiaries of an incredibly strong technology surge,” Pitchford said. The strength of Northern California firms challenged the long dominance of Los Angeles as the capital of the California legal market. Latham remained the state’s highest-grossing firm, taking in $642.5 million. But its profits declined 1.5 percent to $990,000. By contrast, Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison grew profits 36.8 percent to $1.17 million, tops in the state and one of only 20 million-dollar clubs nationwide. It also passed L.A.’s Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher and O’Melveny & Myers to become the state’s second highest-grossing firm with $476 million in revenues. Gibson grossed $469 million, and O’Melveny took in $400.5 million. The other Bay Area firms to make the Am Law 100 were Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati (No. 19), Morrison & Foerster (No. 20), Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe (No. 35), and Pillsbury Madison & Sutro (No. 45), which became Pillsbury Winthrop this year as the result of a merger. Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe (No. 50 from No. 61 last year), Gray Cary Ware & Freidenrich (No. 81) Thelen Reid & Priest (No. 83) also landed on the Am Law 100. The magazine will print a list of the firms that land between positions 101 and 200 in August. Related Charts: California Am Law 100 Firms, By Rank The Nation’s Five Fastest-Growing Firms, By Gross Revenue

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