The National Law Journal Unveils the 2019 NLJ 500

Jun 25, 2019

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2019 NLJ 500_web_bug2019 NLJ 500 Data reveals increases in headcount growth and average firm size

New York, NY – June 25, 2019The National Law Journal (NLJ) today releases the NLJ 500 data, providing a detailed look at headcount changes in the nation’s largest law firms.

“The 2019 NLJ 500 tells the story of more growth in 2018 than we saw in the previous two years,” said Lisa Helem, Editor-in-Chief, The National Law Journal. “The number of NLJ 500 lawyers grew by 2.5% in 2018 to 169,477, compared with 1% growth in 2017 and about 2% in 2016. In addition, the average firm size rose by eight lawyers in 2018 over 2017, compared with the four-lawyer increase firms saw from in 2017 over 2016. One area where we saw unexpected growth in 2018 was in the category of “other” lawyers, or those on the alternative track. There, we saw an increase of 6.4% or 1,171 lawyers. This number, coupled with our conversations with industry stakeholders, suggests client demand for specialized attorneys who aren’t on the partner track.”

The 2019 NLJ 500 data, packaged in a special report analyzing the results, will be made available in the July 2019 print issue of The National Law Journal, and online on June 25 at https://www.law.com/nationallawjournal/. To purchase the data or to view it interactively with year-over-year trends and peer comparisons via Legal Compass, visit at.alm.com/nlj500.

The report’s findings include:

  • More Growth: Lawyer numbers grew by 2.5% in 2018 to 169,477, compared with 1% growth in 2017 & about 2% in 2016.

  • An Unexpected Uptick for "Other" Lawyers: Lawyers on the alternative track, which includes: counsel, senior attorneys, of counsel and staff attorneys -- showed a 6.4% gain in 2018, an increase of 1,171 lawyers. Compare that with a net gain of 99 lawyers, or just 0.5%, in 2017.

  • Nonequity Partnerships Are Growing: Nonequity partnerships grew 3.8% in 2018, while equity partnerships were effectively flat.



  • Trends Among the Top 10 Firms: Three firms in the top ten saw upward movement: Latham & Watkins, Kirkland & Ellis and Morgan Lewis.


The NLJ 500 data is compiled in collaboration with ALM Intelligence and analyzes headcount data on the nation’s largest 500 law firms. ALM Intelligence compiles the number of associates, non-equity partners, and equity partners for each firm and also collects additional data on the size of each of the firm’s offices. In total, ALM Intelligence collected information on 4,800+ law firm offices across the globe.

About The National Law Journal

The National Law Journal, an ALM publication, offers industry-leading coverage of the U.S. Supreme Court, national litigation, federal regulation and law firms. Please visit  https://www.law.com/nationallawjournal/ or follow us on Twitter @TheNLJ for more on our coverage.

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