US firms outshine UK rivals

Despite the troubled state of the US dollar, our friends across the pond still managed to outshine their UK competitors when the finalised financial results for the top 100 US firms were published last month.

Overall, the combined gross revenue for the top 100 US firms reached $50.7bn (£28.97bn) in 2005, up 10 per cent on the previous year. This compares with just £9.71bn earned collectively by the UK top 100 in 2004-05.

The UK firms compare just as poorly on partner profits as, according to The American Lawyer’s AM Law 100 survey, average profit per equity partner (PEP) within the top 100 US firms was $1.12m (£640,000) for 2005, compared with an average PEP of £236,600 across the UK top 100 firms in 2004-05.

New York’s Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz partners have the biggest bulges in their pockets, with an average PEP of $3.79m (£2.06m), while Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom ranked first overall based on gross revenue, reporting a revenue of $1.61bn (£920m).

But while the New York elite continue to dominate the rankings for both PEP and revenue, it was the out-of-towners (although admittedly those firms with significant New York offices) that made the most notable gains this year.

Chicago-based Kirkland & Ellis was the only firm to break the East Coast firms’ dominance of the top 10 in terms of average PEP, ranking eighth with a PEP of $2.12m (£1.15m).

Los Angeles-based Latham & Watkins used its muscle to bump rival internationalist Baker & McKenzie from the number two spot based on gross revenue, up a whopping 17.1 per cent to $1.41bn (£770m).