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When it came through 2012′s financial performance, Pennsylvania’s largest law firms saw everything from small to double-digit rises in most of the key metrics.

Those nearly across-the-board increases might paint a stronger picture of 2012 than was actually the case, as the firms slogged through three tough quarters and reaped the benefits at the end of the year.

The demand for legal services in 2012 was still relatively flat, but that changed in the fourth quarter when clients looked to take advantage of a favorable tax scenario before the year’s end. Law firms saw a sharp uptick in transactional work in the fourth quarter, helping to propel their gross revenue, profits per equity partner (PPP) and revenue per lawyer (RPL) to perhaps higher-than-expected heights.

The end result sapped the inventory many firms would have started out with in the first quarter of 2013. But surveys have shown Pennsylvania’s firms are making up for that with increased hours compared to their national counterparts and by raising rates.


Philadelphia-based Drinker Biddle & Reath grew its revenue by about 1.7 percent and PPP by about 0.7 percent in 2012 in what executive partner Andrew C. Kassner called a “solid year” for the firm.

The firm’s revenue rose from $385.5 million in 2011 to $392 million in 2012.

The firm grew its equity partner tier by about 1.1 percent, from 186 partners in 2011 to 188 partners in 2012, and its net income by about 1.5 percent, from $132 million in 2011 to $134 million in 2012.

The combination of these increases led to a rise of about 0.7 percent in the firm’s PPP, from $710,000 in 2011 to $715,000 in 2012.

Meanwhile, what Drinker Biddle refers to as its “limited-equity” partnership tier dropped by about 24 percent, from 76 lawyers in 2011 to 58 lawyers in 2012, causing the firm’s limited-equity compensation to decrease by about 14 percent, from $28 million in 2011 to $24 million in 2012.

The firm’s average compensation for all partners went up by about 6 percent, from $610,000 in 2011 to $645,000 in 2012.

The firm’s total headcount dipped by 1.2 percent, from 579 attorneys in 2011 to 572 attorneys in 2012. Its RPL, meanwhile, rose by about 3 percent, from $665,000 in 2011 to $685,000 in 2012.

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