America’s largest law firms post record revenues in 2016

While US firms posted big numbers last year, revenue-per-lawyer growth slowed as recruitment spiked

America’s largest law firms post record revenues in 2016

It was a banner year for America’s largest law firms in 2016 as they collectively posted a record for total revenue.

According to The American Lawyer’s latest “Am Law 100” rankings, total revenue for the 100 largest law firms in the country for 2016 increased 4.3% to a record US$86.7bn, stronger than the 2.7% growth experienced in 2015.

Headcount increased to 95,515, up 2.7%, compared to less than 1% last year. Average profits per partner were US$1.66m, an increase of 3% compared to the 4% increased experienced in the previous year. Average revenue per lawyer (RPL) was US$907,765, up 1.5%, which is lower than the 2.6% growth experienced in 2015 and is the second-slowest increase since 2011.

There was little movement in the top-line rankings, as Latham & Watkins held on to its crown, while Kirkland & Ellis moved up three places to the second spot. It is followed by Baker McKenzie; Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom; and DLA Piper, which dropped from the second spot.

The top 10 firms by revenue are:

  1. Latham & Watkins (2015 rank: 1) – US$2.823bn (change from 2015: 6.50%)
  2. Kirkland & Ellis (5) – US$2.651bn (15.00%)
  3. Baker McKenzie [verein] (3) – US$2.620bn (7.80%)
  4. Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom (4) – US$2.495bn (3.50%)
  5. DLA Piper [verein] (2) – US$2.470bn (-2.90%)
  6. Jones Day (6) – US$1.977bn (1.90%)
  7. Sidley Austin (7) – US$1.928bn (3.30%)
  8. Hogan Lovells [verein] (9) – US$1.926bn (5.70%)
  9. Morgan Lewis & Bockius (8) – US$1.860bn (1.10%)
  10. Norton Rose Fulbright [verein] (10) – US$1.686bn (-3.00%)

In terms of RPL, there was also little movement. The top 10 firms by RPL are:

  1. Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz (1) – US$3.130m (-70%)
  2. Sullivan & Cromwell (2) – US$1.7m (40%)
  3. Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan (3) – US$1.675m (8.40%)
  4. Kirkland & Ellis (5) – US$1.505m (5.60%)
  5. Cravath Swaine & Moore (6) – US$1.485m (30%)
  6. Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom (4) – US$1.445m (0.70%)
  7. Simpson Thacher & Bartlett (7) – US$1.340m (0.80%)
  8. Boies Schiller & Flexner (9 tie) – US$1.325m (4.70%)
  9. Davis Polk & Wardwell (13) – US$1.295m (5.30%)
  10. Gibson Dunn & Crutcher (9 tie) – US$1.295m (2.40%)

The top 10 firms with the largest profits per equity partner are:

  1. Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz (1) – US$5.800m (-12.10%)
  2. Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan (2) – US$5.015m (13.50%)
  3. Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison (3) – US$4.380m (7.20%)
  4. Cravath Swaine & Moore (6) – US$4.195m (18.00%)
  5. Kirkland & Ellis (5) – US$4.100m (13.70%)
  6. Sullivan & Cromwell (4) – US$4.050m (4.70%)
  7. Davis Polk & Wardwell (9) – US$3.775m (14.20%)
  8. Cahill Gordon & Reindel (8) – US$3.635m (20%)
  9. Simpson Thacher & Bartlett (7) – US$3.505m (1.00%)
  10. Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton (13) – US$3.320m (7.80%)


Related stories:
Which law firms are the most profitable?
The Global 100: Here are the law firms swimming in revenue this year

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