Because the Tribune 25 survey is entirely confidential, no firm’s numbers are singled out as official or unofficial. That includes the number of non-equity partners that we report for each firm.
In keeping with American Lawyer methodology, we have asked firms to distinguish between equity and non-equity partners. The vast majority did. In a few cases, the listings are simply our best estimate.
This year, we arrived at the Tribune 25 list from a pool of 37 firms headquartered in Connecticut that we viewed as having the potential to make the cut. We chose the top 25 based on gross revenues, and derived the profits per equity partner and revenue per lawyer rankings from those 25 law firms. This year, as in past years, had we used the larger pool of firms to rank profits per partner, firms that didn’t make the cut when it came to gross revenue would place among the top 25 in partner profits. But then again, the Tribune 25 is not a list of the highest-paid lawyers in the state.
How do we get the numbers? First of all, we ask politely, by letter. After years of experience with all the alternatives, many firms take charge of the process and simply provide them. In other cases, when only some pieces of the puzzle are provided, estimates can be formulated based on several known elements. All firms disclose how many lawyers they have, and we measure the headcount as of the last day of August. Firms are also transparent about their first-year associate salaries, and the increases over the subsequent six to eight years follow a basic trajectory. Patterns emerge. We have created a software template that is useful in putting the pieces together. It’s not rocket science. There are only so many hours a year a lawyer can work—or bill, and the law of averages has a stabilizing effect.
Just like our sister publication American Lawyer magazine’s AmLaw 100 and AmLaw 200 surveys, there is no disclosure of which figures listed above are official and which are our best-educated estimates. Over the decades, the level of firm cooperation in these well-read surveys has steadily and gratifyingly increased. Frankly, the number of firms who have seen fit to provide accurate numbers to the 2012 Tribune 25 survey is the highest ever—well over two thirds.
We hope you enjoy this feature, which traditionally has been the best-read issue of the year. •