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The National Law Journal‘s 28th annual survey of the nation’s 250 largest law firms covers the period of Oct. 1, 2004, to Sept. 30, 2005. While most of the charts in the NLJ 250 are self-explanatory, here is some information about the process, the criteria and the definitions. The NLJ sent surveys to approximately 300 law firms and solicited survey submissions to determine the 250 largest. Eligibility is based on a firm’s total number of attorneys, not including contract or temporary attorneys. The cutoff point this year is 165. Also, a firm must have more lawyers based in the United States than in any other single country. Firms are ranked by the total number of full-time equivalent (FTE) attorneys, rather than just full-time attorneys. In some cases, due to rounding, this calculation yielded slightly higher or lower numbers than the figures submitted by the law firms. In case of a tie we rank firms by the total number of partners. If the tie persists, we break it based on the number of equity partners at each firm. The city listed under the firm name is the firm’s principal office. In cases where the firm did not wish to be identified with a single locale, the city listed is home to the firm’s largest office. “Number of attorneys” reflects permanent, FTE attorneys. The first column in the “Partners” category is the total number of partners, including the nonequity partners (NE) listed in the adjacent column. The same is true for the chart reflecting overall partner and nonequity partner growth. The “other” category includes the total number of nonpartner, nonassociate lawyers at the firm. Generally, this includes counsel, of counsel, senior counsel and staff attorneys. In some instances, NLJ 250 firms merged. In those cases, the 2004 data are taken from the firm that was larger, with the exception of DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary, a three-way merger. “Starting salary” lists the base salary for a first-year associate. Some firms vary depending on branch office. A “WND” in any column indicates that the firm would not disclose the data. The “Branch Offices” section lists the total number of attorneys in each city where the firm has offices. This was the first year that the NLJ used an online survey tool to collect information from firms. Minor discrepancies between the total number of attorneys at a firm and the total attorneys reported in branch offices are due to rounding FTE figures, and attorneys with multiple offices. NLJ research editor Lindsay Fortado oversaw the project, assisted by Tasha Norman and Stefanie Shaffer.

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