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The Am Law 100 posted solid gains in gross revenue and profits in 2016, but the revenue per lawyer figure dropped on stronger growth in head count. Analysts are split on whether this change means firms are gearing up for an expected increase in demand or are setting themselves up for an overcapacity problem. The results show continuing stratification among the top and bottom of the list as well as more volatility, with more firms seeing key financial metrics dip one year and rise another. This year the list saw three new entrants and some changes at the top: For the first time in years, no global verein occupies the first or second spot.


Previous Am Law 100 coverage : 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008

FEATURES & ANALYSIS

The country’s largest law firms are dealing with increased volatility and slowing growth in revenue per lawyer, but they are still managing to increase profits.
 
We upped the requirements for inclusion in the Super Rich and see a slightly different crop of firms rise to the top.
 
The second half of the Am Law 100 has some soul-searching to do in an effort to identify their differentiators.
 
Hogan Lovells is arguably the most successful verein in the world, but did it miss out on certain opportunities?
 
 
The data on law firm finances makes for some interesting comparisons.
 
Law firms need to know what they are, and what they’re not, and own it.
 

PODCASTS

A Look Behind the Numbers With ALM Intelligence’s Nick Bruch
ALM Intelligence senior analyst Nick Bruch offers his perspective on what the numbers really show when you remove the noise, what the biggest takeaways are and some interesting thoughts on whether we might see a Magic Circle that includes U.S. firms.
 
Key Findings From the Am Law 100: A Podcast With Roy Strom
Reporter Roy Strom summarizes the key takeaways from the Am Law 100 rankings and what consultants say to look for in the coming year.
 

THE CHARTS

The Am Law 100: Firms Ranked by Gross Revenue
Kirkland & Ellis’ strong year propelled it from the fifth to the second spot on our list, marking the first time in years that a global verein has not been in the first or second spot.
 
Revenue Per Lawyer
On average, revenue per lawyer, the metric that we’ve long regarded as the most reliable measure of a firm’s financial health, increased by 1.5 percent, lower than the 2.6 percent increase at Am Law 100 firms in 2015. For 2016, 65 firms posted a gain in RPL, compared with 70 in 2015.
 
Profits Per Equity Partner
Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz remains at the top of the list with $5.8 million in profits per equity partner. Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan also exceeded $5 million in PPP. For the Am Law 100 as a whole, average profits per partner were up by 3.0 percent in 2016, coming in lower than the 4.0 percent increase of 2015.Twenty firms had growth rates of at least 10 percent, while five firms had double-digit declines.
 
 
INTERACTIVE
 
Charting Growth

This chart maps year-over-year changes in revenue per lawyer and profits per partner for every firm in The Am Law 100. Baker Botts, Crowell & Moring, and Nelson Mullins saw the biggest increases in both RPL and PPP last year.

 
 
Compensation for All Partners
Average Compensation-All Partners rose by 1.6 percent in 2016, compared with an increase of 3.7 percent in 2015. Seventy-one firms posted increases, compared with 70 the previous year. Fifteen firms posted double-digit gains, while six posted double-digit losses.
 
This metric, introduced in 1985, seeks to demonstrate which firms best balance leverage and profit margin for the highest possible profits per partner.
 
A firm’s PPL is its net income divided by its lawyer count. Wachtell topped the list with a PPL of $1.92 million.
 
The Methodology
How we report law firm financials.
 

SEE ALSO:
Firm-by-firm snapshots based on ALM’s preliminary reporting on Am Law 100 financials.