Only two of the six Pennsylvania firms on the Am Law 200 were able to improve their position on the annual ranking of firms based on gross revenue, despite all of the firms seeing rises in that metric.
According to Legal affiliate The American Lawyer‘s latest report on the second hundred largest law firms in the country, Am Law 200 firms grew headcount on average by 3 percent. That was compared to less than 1 percent growth among the nation’s 100 largest firms.
Cozen O’Connor joined the second 100 this year, falling one spot from last year to 101st this year. The firm’s gross revenue grew 5.6 percent between 2011 and 2012 to $310.5 million.
The other five Pennsylvania firms on the list were the same ones that appeared last year. Ballard Spahr, Fox Rothschild, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, Saul Ewing and Stevens & Lee made repeat appearances at or near their position in prior years, with the exception of Fox Rothschild. The 490-lawyer firm had the biggest gains of area firms up the Am Law 200, moving from 118th place last year to 111th this year.
Perhaps the more notable trend for Fox Rothschild is its movement up the list over the past eight years. While many other Pennsylvania firms on the Am Law 100 and 200 have hovered around the same position, particularly during the recession, Fox Rothschild has made steady gains up the chart each year since 2005. The firm was ranked 174th in 2005.
Headcount growth certainly had a lot to do with that, as the firm went from 237 lawyers in 2005 to nearly 500 this year. But managing partner Mark Silow said it is the average profits, expenses and revenue per lawyer that he is most concerned with. He said the revenue per lawyer (RPL) and profits per equity partner (PPP) have seen steady growth year over year for the past eight years.
"For the last eight years or so, we have been dedicated to growing," Silow said. "We identified that that was important to us for our profitability, for our survivability, that we needed to have a bigger footprint nationally and that each of the offices we had in that footprint had to grow to a critical mass. That has kept us focused on growing."
Fox Rothschild has opened recently in Denver, Miami and Washington, D.C. And it has expanded its newer offices, such as in Los Angeles, New York and West Palm Beach, Fla.
Silow said the firm has been successful because of that steady growth of laterals who panned out at or better than expectations, coupled with a diversified practice that weathered the economic downturn. He said each year was better financially than the one before without the "draconian cutting" other firms resorted to.
Fox Rothschild has been "intensely focused" on the middle market and has kept billing rates both moderate and flexible, which, Silow said, has allowed the firm to pick up market share.
"It just seems that our middle-market focus has really been the place to be during the past five or six difficult years," Silow said.
Silow said there are still a few geographic areas the firm needs to enter. He said he is targeting a "major city in Texas," Chicago and the Pacific Northwest. The goal is also to get the Miami, Las Vegas and Washington offices up to the critical mass the firm prefers of 25 to 30 lawyers in an office.
"We have a ways to go before we would consider the footprint built out," Silow said. "From there, it’s really just a question of how comfortable the partners are in each particular office."
Cozen O’Connor’s gross revenue increased 5.6 percent from $294 million in 2011 to $310.5 million in 2012. The firm’s RPL rose 4.3 percent from $585,000 to $610,000 and PPP increased 8.4 percent from $655,000 to $710,000. Average compensation for all partners rose 5.9 percent from $510,000 to $540,000. The firm’s overall headcount grew by six attorneys to 509 lawyers and the number of partners increased 4.5 percent to 257 partners. Of those partners, 153 were equity partners, a 4.8 percent increase from 2011. The firm’s nonequity partner tier rose 4 percent from 100 nonequity partners to 104.
Ballard Spahr held its spot at 103rd on the Am Law 200 ranking with a 5.3 percent rise in gross revenue from $285 million to $300 million. The firm’s PPP rose 4.7 percent from $530,000 in 2011 to $555,000 in 2012. RPL grew 3.3 percent from $605,000 to $625,000. The firm saw a 1.3 percent increase in headcount from 473 attorneys to 479 in 2012.
Fox Rothschild saw its revenue grow from about $257 million in 2011 to $277 million in 2012, a 7.8 percent increase. The firm’s RPL increased by about 3.7 percent, from $545,000 to $565,000, and its PPP increased by about 2.6 percent, from $585,000 to $600,000. The firm’s overall headcount grew by 4 percent, from 471 lawyers to 490 lawyers. Its equity partner tier expanded 2 percent, from 150 to 153 partners, and its nonequity partner tier grew 3.4 percent from 58 partners to 60 partners.
Buchanan Ingersoll fell from 115th to 117th on the Am Law 200. The firm’s gross revenue grew 3.1 percent from $257.5 million to $265.5 million. The firm’s PPP fell 4.3 percent from $695,000 to $665,000 and its RPL rose 4.8 percent from $620,000 to $650,000. Buchanan Ingersoll’s headcount dipped 1.4 percent from 415 attorneys to 409 lawyers. The equity tier held steady at 103 equity partners.
Saul Ewing moved up four spots from 177th to 173rd on the Am Law 200 with a 7.8 percent rise in gross revenue from $122.5 million to $132 million. Its overall headcount increased 3.2 percent from 219 lawyers to 226, while RPL increased 4.5 percent from $560,000 to $585,000. Saul Ewing’s PPP went up 12 percent from $500,000 to $560,000, while its equity partner tier decreased by two lawyers from 83 to 81.
Stevens & Lee
Stevens & Lee dropped from 183rd to 186th on the Am Law 200. The firm grew its gross revenue 1.3 percent from $113 million in 2011 to $114.5 million in 2012. RPL stayed about flat, moving from $680,000 to $685,000, and PPP rose 1 percent from $1.01 million to $1.02 million. The firm’s overall headcount increased by one lawyer to 167 attorneys.