Frisco revenues on the rise after 2002 slump

San Francisco’s legal market is showing signs of recovery, with nine out of the region’s top 10 firms posting increases in gross revenues in 2003.

The statistics, published by The Recorder, contrast with a grim 2002, when four of the top 10 firms – Cooley Godward, Gray Cary Ware & Freidenrich, Pillsbury Winthrop and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati – saw gross revenues take a tumble.

Among the strongest performers, Heller Ehr-man White & McAuliffe leapfrogged two places in the revenue tables to take third spot, behind Morrison & Foerster and Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe. In a year that saw Heller Ehrman’s acquisition of the Venture Law Group, Brobeck Phleger & Harrison’s San Diego office and the bulk of Hong Kong firm Siao Wen, the firm notched up a 21 per cent increase in revenue. Partner profits also climbed 18 per cent from $710,000 (£391,000) to $835,000 (£460,000).

Ill-fated Brobeck Phleger & Harrison was notably absent, having officially dissolved in February 2003. With Brobeck out of the picture, 54-partner newcomer Sedgwick Detert Moran & Arnold joined the top 10 for the first time.

Top 10 highest grossing bay area firms
Rank
2003 (02)
Firm Gross revenue
$m (£m)
Profits per partner
$K (£K)
No of lawyers No of equity partners
1 (1) Morrison & Foerster 540 (297.2) 740 (407) 880 220
2 (3) Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe 448 (246.6) 945 (520) 638 142
3 (5) Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe 430 (236.7) 835 (460) 571 180
4 (2) Pillsbury Winthrop 423 (232.8) 720 (396) 672 140
5 (4) Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati* 360 (198.2) 830 (457) 570 146
6 (7) Cooley Godward 289 (159.1) 765 (421) 464 133
7 (8) Thelen Reid & Priest 235 (129.4) 550 (303) 406 130
8 (9) Gray Cary Ware & Freidenrich 209 (115.0) 615 (339) 3374 77
9 (10) Littler Mendelson 173 (95.2) 430 (237) 375 135
10 (-) Sedgwick Detert Moran & Arnold 137 (75.4) 520 (286) 326 54
 
* Preliminary estimate by firm. Fiscal year ends 31 January
Source: The Recorder