Our latest annual survey of the biggest U.S. firms by headcount, shows that, on the whole, large firms added attorneys again last year. But the increases weren’t universal. In fact, 109 firms recorded declines in headcount this year.
The growth wasn’t evenly distributed among types of lawyers, either. The number of nonequity partners spiked by nearly 8 percent. Equity partner ranks, on the other hand, declined 1.6 percent. Firms, it seems, were willing to increase overhead (presumably to handle more work and retain veterans), but not so inclined to open the profit pool to more players. Continue reading editor-in-chief David Brown’s note to readers.
THE NLJ 250
The Big Picture
The nation’s largest firms gained more than 2,000 lawyers in 2011. But growth was concentrated in a few sectors.
New to the Survey
We examine a dozen firms that entered or returned to this year’s NLJ 250. What factors are driving their growth?
Quinn Emanuel added 190 lawyers last year—the biggest nonmerger increase among the NLJ 250.
Nonequity partners grew by 8 percent
The legal industry’s shift toward nonequity partnerships continued last year, even as law firms began to rebuild their attorney headcounts.
BY THE NUMBERS
The NLJ 250
Our annual ranking of the nation’s 250 largest law firms. Plus: Data on partners, associates and other attorneys.
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.
Ranking the States
Where do big firm lawyers work?
Metropolitan areas with the most NLJ 250 lawyers.
A comprehensive list of the offices at NLJ 250 firms.
THREE DECADES OF THE NLJ 250
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.
Dorsey & Whitney
|Sheila L. Birnbaum
Jenner & Block
Kirkland & Ellis
|Lewis R. Clayton
|Peter J. Kalis
|Esther F. Lardent
Pro Bono Institute
Winston & Strawn
BY THE NUMBERS
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.
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.
Continue reading editor-in-chief David Brown’s note to readers.
The NLJ 350
One hundred law firms join the ranks of our annual survey.
Coast to Coast
We highlight five geographically diverse law firms.
RUTAN & TUCKER
Costa Mesa, Calif.
CHOATE, HALL & STEWART
DAVIS, GRAHAM & STUBBS
BY THE NUMBERS
The Complete List
The nation’s largest law firms, from 3,805-lawyer bohemoth Baker & McKenzie to Chicago’s Freeborn & Peters with 112 lawyers.
A handful of interesting data points stood out in our expanded survey.