After three years of flat to negative growth, 2011 was the year that the nation’s 250 largest law firms started getting bigger again.

Headcount among NLJ 250 firms was up a collective 2,132 lawyers, about the size of a Latham & Watkins. That represented growth of 1.7 percent — in line with the average increase during the past 10 years, but well below the 4 to 5 percent growth rate of the 2005-08 go-go years. Growth was far from universal in 2011 — while 118 firms on the list added lawyers, 109 shrank and eight were flat. (The remaining 15 were not on the list last year.)

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