Top 100 US law firms widen the gap with chasing pack

The gap between the top 100 law firms in the US and the chasing pack widened further last year, despite the second hundred firms recording promising growth in both average revenues and profits.

According to the latest AMLaw 200 survey, which monitors the financial performance of the US’s law firms ranked between 101 and 200 based on revenue, the second hundred’s average profit per equity partner (PEP) figures trailed the top hundred’s PEP by $393,000 (£220,300).

This gap has grown steadily since 2001, when the difference in PEP was $323,000 (£181,000). However, average PEP for the second hundred stood at $566,000 (£317,200) in 2004, behind the AMLaw 100’s average PEP of $959,000 (£537,500).

Despite the widening gap, the second hundred still recorded promising increases in gross revenue, which rose on average 7 per cent during 2004.

PEP also rose almost 11 per cent on average, while revenue per lawyer increased by 9 per cent.

Thirteen firms within the second hundred also broke the $1m (£560,000) barrier for average PEP during 2004, up from six the previous year.

This compared with eight firms in the top 100 US firms, which pulled in PEP of $2m (£1.1m) or more. Only New York State-based Boies Schiller & Flexner in the second hundred managed to break the $2m barrier.

New York litigation specialists Kasowitz Benson Torres & Friedman, which was 2003’s top performer based on PEP, suffered one of the most significant slumps last year after PEP dropped 50 per cent, from $2.9m (£1.6m) in 2003 to $1.5m (£840,000).

This drop was beaten only by Washington DC’s Dickstein Shapiro Morin & Oshinsky, which ranked second based on revenue, after it suffered a 58 per cent drop in PEP, from $1.9m (£1.1m) in 2003 to $815,000 (£456,800).

Top 10 US firms in AmLaw 200 survey based on revenues
Rank
Firm
Gross Revenue
No of lawyers
No of equity partners
RPL
PPP
$m
(£m)
$K
(£K)
$K
(£K)
101 Irell & Manella 199.0 (111.5) 208 81 955 (535) 1,530 (858)
102 Dickstein Shapiro Morin & Oshinsky 197.0 (110.4) 298 89 660 (370) 815 (457)
103= Hughes Hubbard & Reed 196.0 (109.9) 295 70 665 (373) 1,015 (569)
103= Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel 196.0 (109.9) 270 58 725 (406) 1,210 (678)
105 Locke Liddell & Sapp 193.0 (108.2) 310 106 620 (348) 650 (364)
106 Shaw Pittman* 191.5 (107.3) 335 45 570 (319) 765 (429)
107 Sutherland Asbill & Brennan 187.5 (105.1) 352 108 535 (300) 710 (398)
108 Littler Mendelson 187.0 (104.8) 395 140 475 (266) 435 (244)
109 Davis Wright Tremaine 183.0 (102.6) 386 187 475 (266) 370 (207)
110 Preston Gates & Ellis 182.0 (102.0) 369 129 495 (277) 350 (196)


 
*Merged with Pillsbury Winthrop in April 2005
Source: AmLaw 200