Since 1978, when we published our first list of 200 firms, and 1983, when we expanded the list to 250, The National Law Journal‘s annual law firm survey has identified the largest legal players in the United States — ranking them by headcount and providing detail about their locations, partners, associates and other attorneys.

This year, we launched our biggest-ever expansion of the survey, adding 100 additional firms to our list, ranked from No. 251 to No. 350. The new list provides a closer look at the growing midsize law firm market and includes a number of regional players outside the big cities that dominate our traditional NLJ 250 survey.

Expanding the playing field
A note to readers from NLJ editor-in-chief David L. Brown.
The NLJ 350
One hundred law firms join the ranks of our annual survey.

Coast to Coast
We highlight five geographically diverse law firms. 

Baton Rouge
Costa Mesa, Calif.
Uniondale, N.Y.



The Complete List
The nation’s largest law firms, from 3,805-lawyer bohemoth Baker & McKenzie to Chicago’s Freeborn & Peters with 112 lawyers.

Fact Findings
A handful of interesting data points stood out in our expanded survey.


In our Sept. 18, 1978, issue, The National Law Journal published its first survey of law firms, what would become the NLJ 250. Two weeks ago, we published our 35th survey, and this week we examine trends in law firm growth (and contraction) during the past three decades.

Class of ’78: Still going after all these years
Of firms on NLJ’s first survey, three-quarters remain among the nation’s largest. What kept them on top?

Three Decades of Change
Practitioners discuss how the profession has changed in the past 30-something years.

Nick Akerman 
Dorsey & Whitney
Sheila L. Birnbaum
Skadden Arps
Ward Bower
Altman Weil
Paulette Brown
Edwards Wildman
Robert Byman
Jenner & Block
Dale Cendali
Kirkland & Ellis
Lewis R. Clayton
Paul Weiss
Peter J. Kalis
K&L Gates
Esther F. Lardent
Pro Bono Institute
Dan Webb
Winston & Strawn



What happened to the top firms of 1978?
Today, firms with thousands of lawyer top our annual survey. In our inaugural list, no firm topped 500 attorneys, and only one had more than 300.

Three decades of law firm trends
A collection of interactive charts tracking the firms that have made big moves on the NLJ 250 — some up, some down, and a few spectacular flameouts.



The NLJ 250 Regional Market Report
More than 126,000 attorneys work for firms listed on the NLJ 250. And of those, nearly 70 percent work in the 25 markets listed in the pages that follow. We’ve ranked markets by NLJ 250 headcount and have included 23 major cities and two other distinct markets — Orange County, Calif., and Northern New Jersey — with large concentrations of lawyers. We also look at eight major international markets. City totals include lawyers in suburban offices.

Who’s the biggest law firm of them all (in the U.S.)?
The NLJ 250 would look significantly different if it were based solely on attorney headcounts within the United States. Some of the firms that top the traditional NLJ 250 hold significantly lower spots on an all-U.S. attorney list, given their heavy investments in foreign markets. 

Market difficulties don’t deter U.S. firms from expanding in China
China continues to be a draw for NLJ 250 firms, which added 194 lawyers to their offices there during the past year. The number of those offices grew from 124 to 132 during 2012.

Largest Law Firm Offices in the United States
More than 19,000 lawyers work in the 50 largest U.S. offices.

Foreign Powers
Largest international offices of NLJ 250 firms.

Ranking the States
Where do big firm lawyers work?

Major Markets 
Metropolitan areas with the most NLJ 250 lawyers.

Branch Offices
A comprehensive list of the offices at NLJ 250 firms.