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The meteoric rise of Kirkland & Ellis over the past decade has drawn much attention, but Kirkland is far from the only firm making big moves. For a change of pace, let’s look at a larger group of firms competing fiercely to cement their place for the next recovery.


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Figures 4 and 5 in the infographic below track reported figures for average partner compensation since the pre-recession peak in 2007. All amounts are adjusted for inflation by indexing to 2020 dollars and expressed as percentage change over 2007. By emphasizing percentage change over time, rather than relative ordering by current position, these charts highlight the firms that are outperforming their peers to establish a durable competitive advantage.

Figure 4 provides a snapshot look at the waxing and waning fortunes of generalist firms with a national footprint that are ranked by Chambers USA in multiple practices. Although intended to be representative rather than comprehensive, this chart highlights standouts among firms headquartered outside the New York and Chicago markets.

Boston-based Ropes & Gray has reported stellar gains in the past five years, averaging 4.6% annual increases in revenue per lawyer and 9.1% growth in profits per equity partner, likely by leveraging its superior competitive position in private equity and life sciences.

Washington, D.C., strongholds Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld and Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr both compiled impressive performance gains over the past decade following relatively quick rebounds from the Great Recession. As the regulatory pendulum sets to swing back around under the Biden administration, both firms are well positioned to continue this trajectory in the next recovery.

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