The Am Law 100: Goodbye golden age?
It was fun while it lasted. In 2007, The Am Law 100 - the top-grossing law firms in the US - finished the best sustained growth spurt since The American Lawyer began tracking firm financials in 1984. For the first time, the firms showed five consecutive years of better-than-average growth in both revenue per lawyer (RPL), the key measure of law firm financial success, and profits per equity partner (PEP), the metric that has turned law firm managers into contortionists. How good was this run? Since 2003, average RPL has increased by $205,000 (£105,000). Before that, it took the firms 10 years - from 1992 to 2002 - to improve that much. The relative gain in profits was even more impressive. Since 2003, PEP has jumped by $438,000 (£224,000), to an average of $1.3m (£665,000). It took the Am Law 100 firms 15 years - from 1987 to 2002 - to make a similar gain.
US law firms just finished the best five-year economic run since The American Lawyer began keeping records. Now, headcount and salaries have outpaced revenue and rates – is the golden age over? Aric Press and John O’Connor report
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