After watching partner profits sink in 2008 (down 4.3 percent) and crawl back into positive territory in 2009 (a mere 0.3 percent increase), The Am Law 100 collectively exhaled last year as profits per partner jumped a healthy 8.4 percent.
Firms heeded Obamaphile Rahm Emanuel’s advice and didn’t let the economic crisis go to waste. They cut overhead, principally by trimming head count at all levels, and reined in expenses. (Lavish retreats in exotic locales gave way to pedestrian events at the home office.) As the economy revived, the country’s highest-grossing firms were able to convert modest revenue gains into profits thanks to their prudence. Here are a few other key stats from our rankings:
- Gross Revenue. The Am Law 100′s revenue jumped 4 percent last year, in effect making up for the 3.4 percent loss it posted in 2009. Firms benefited from the nascent recovery in capital markets and M&A. And even with clients’ demands for discounts, firms were able to increase their “productivity” or hours worked and raise rates. Still, in “Drop the Scissors”, the top officials at Citi Private Bank’s Law Firm Group write that rate increases in 2010 “were roughly half the size of the annual rate increases in the boom years prior to 2008.”
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