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Last year was a better one than 2015 for the Am Law 50, and especially for the most profitable firms. The same can’t be said for the rest of the industry. At 4.1 percent average growth in profits per equity partner (PPEP), 2016 was a decent year, but it fell short of 2015, with marginal demand growth and the midyear associate salary increases being key factors. Rate increases and faster collections were the primary drivers of revenue growth, while operating expense management helped blunt the impact of those associate salary increases. Looking ahead, 2016′s year-end inventory growth trailed 2015′s, setting up a softer start to 2017′s collections.

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