Average PEP at US firms smashes $1m

The average profit per equity partner (PEP) at the top 100 US firms broke through the $1m barrier for the first time last year while an unprecedented seven firms smashed the $1bn gross revenue mark.

According to The American Lawyer’s AmLaw 100 survey, average PEP across the top 100 US firms was $1.12m for the 2005 financial year, up 17 per cent from $957,260 in 2004.

US independent Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz, which has shunned an international model, topped the tables with an average PEP of $3.79m. This was more than $1m above second-placed Cravath Swaine & Moore which reported average PEP of $2.6m.

Meanwhile Weil Gotshal & Manges and White & Case broke the $1bn gross revenue mark for the first time, with gross revenues of $1.046bn and $1.016bn respectively.

They join Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, Latham & Watkins, Baker & McKenzie, Jones Day and Sidley Austin in the exclusive group of firms billing above $1bn.

Skadden ranked first overall based on gross revenues, reporting revenues of $1.61bn. It is the twentieth time in the AmLaw 100’s 22-year history that Skadden has led the revenue list.

But Latham & Watkins made the most notable gain, replacing Baker & McKenzie in the number two spot.

Latham’s gross global revenues were up an impressive 17.1 per cent to $1.41bn, compounding the firm’s similar growth in London which was reported in The Lawyer as $142m (£81.1m).

Overall combined gross revenue for the top 100 US firms reached a record $51bn in 2005. The top 10 US firms earned collective revenues of $11,746bn (£6,712bn). This compares to just £4.92bn pocketed by the top 10 UK firms in 2004-05.

Meanwhile, New York firms led the rankings AmLaw’s “compensation all partners” table. All of the top 10 firms were based in New York, with all but two offering $2m or more.

In fact, of the 33 firms that reported average partner compensation of more than $1m for 2005, 22 were from the New York elite.

Chicago-based Kirkland & Ellis was the only firm to break the East Coast firms’ dominance in terms of partner profits, ranking eighth with average PEP of $2.12m.