The Am Law 100: Lessons of the Am Law 100
Nothing grows forever. For the first time since 1991, both average profits per partner and revenue per lawyer dipped last year among the Am Law 100 firms, the top-grossing firms in the nation. And, given the weakness in the market thus far in 2009, another decline seems likely this year.Those are the headlines from The American Lawyer's 23rd annual Am Law 100 report. These results are for 2008. They capture the start of the economic distress that set the stage for record law firm layoffs and anxiety but, because of the cutoff date, they mask the distress many firms are now dealing with. Last year, overall gross revenue grew by 4.1%, to $67bn (£44.4bn), a new record. But head count grew faster, increasing by 5.4%, to 81,992 lawyers. As a result of that growth, plus a serious drop in demand during the second half of 2008 for high-end work - especially in the corporate and finance sectors - profits per equity partner (PEP) fell by 4.3%, to an average of $1.26m (£836,000), and revenue per lawyer (RPL) dropped 1.2%, to $818,000 (£542,000).
Last year was The Am Law 100′s worst in 17 years – and the fall-off in premium work is only partly to blame. By Aric Press and John O’Connor
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