With 19 New Jersey-based firms among those listed in this year’s NLJ 500, attorney population change firm to firm was very much a mixed bag, but more firms climbed than slid—even though more firms shrank than grew.

Total attorney population among all 500 firms (using full-time equivalents) increased by about 1 percent in 2017, which was a slower growth rate than that of 2016 (2 percent), the National Law Journal reported.

The survey also found that population growth at the top 350 firms far outpaced that of the bottom 150 firms.

The picture is more nuanced for the New Jersey contingent, whose firms saw changes ranging from 9.9 percent population growth to 10.3 percent population decrease, according to data collected by ALM Legal Intelligence.

Of the 19 New Jersey firms, eight had a positive population growth rate, while 11 had a negative growth rate. Interestingly, though, some firms still gained ground despite losing a few attorneys: 12 moved up the rankings, while six moved down, and one maintained the same rank from last year.

It’s worth noting that additions and departures at firms with smaller head counts will beget more dramatic rates of change. And, of course, attorney population doesn’t tell the whole story of law firm performance or strategy.

With that in mind, here’s how each New Jersey firm, in order of firmwide head count, stacked up.

  • McCarter & English, with a net increase of one in attorney head count, had an essentially flat rate of growth, and dropped one spot in the rankings, to 116th.
  • Lowenstein Sandler’s head count decreased 2.3 percent, to 268 total lawyers, yet it climbed two spots, to 158th.
  • Day Pitney’s population decreased 4.9 percent, to 252 lawyers. That was the third-highest rate of decrease among New Jersey firms. Still, it climbed one spot, to 166th.
  • McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter had a net decrease of two attorneys, to 247 total, meaning a 0.7 percent decrease. But it climbed four spots, to 170th. (Not accounted for in the NLJ 500 data is the firm’s more recent addition of 20 lawyers via its 2018 acquisition of Graham Curtin.)
  • Archer & Greiner had a net loss of two lawyers, to 176 total (a 1.1 percent decrease), but occupied the same spot as last year (223rd).
  • Gibbons’ net loss of two lawyers, to 175 total, meant a 1.3 percent decrease, but the firm climbed one spot, to 225th.
  • Bressler, Amery & Ross had the third-largest population increase—4.5 percent—to 163 total lawyers. The firm climbed 14 spots, to 243rd, following a 49-spot climb the previous year.
  • The attorney population at Riker Danzig Scherer Hyland & Perretti decreased by three (to 140, a 2.4 percent change), and the firm slid nine spots, to 290th.
  • Norris McLaughlin & Marcus increased attorney head count by two (to 139, a 1.5 percent change), and climbed eight spots in the rankings, to 291st.
  • Cole Schotz had the second-highest growth rate (8.8 percent) among New Jersey firms, increasing total head count to 136. It shot up the rankings 31 spots, to 299th. (Earlier this year, the firm made its first appearance on the Am Law 200, which ranks firms by gross revenue.)
  • Sills Cummis & Gross’ 134 total included a net gain of two lawyers, a 1.5 percent increase, and the firm climbed five spots, to 306th.
  • The net loss of three lawyers at Chiesa Shahinian & Giantomasi, to 130 total, was a 2.3 percent decrease, and the firm fell six spots, to 312th.
  • Connell Foley’s net gain of one lawyer meant a change of 0.8 percent, and the firm climbed five spots, to 321st.
  • Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer had the second-highest rate of decrease—by 5.5 percent—to 103 total lawyers. It slid 20 spots in the rankings, to 381st.
  • Hoagland, Longo, Moran, Dunst & Doukas’ head count increased 2.1 percent, to 99 total, and it climbed seven spots, to 396th.
  • Capehart & Scatchard’s net gain of one attorney, to 91 total, meant a 1.1 percent change, and a move up three spots, to 424th.
  • Greenbaum Rowe Smith & Davis saw a population decrease of 3.2 percent, to 91 total, and slid nine spots in the rankings, to 425th.
  • Porzio, Bromberg & Newman had the highest growth rate, at 9.9 percent, as its total attorney population increased to 89. The firm made a 52-spot jump up the rankings, to 436th.
  • Stark & Stark had the largest population rate decrease. The 10-lawyer loss, to 87 total, was a 10.3 percent change. The firm slid 41 spots, to 441st.