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Billion-Dollar Babies

So much for the predictions of the demise of Am Law 100 law firms due to lack of work-life balance, diversity, associate attrition and other issues purportedly troubling today's firms. Apparently, these issues are barely a blip on the firms' collective radar screen. According to the just-issued Am Law 100 revenue rankings summarized in this chart and this look behind the numbers, more firms are prospering than ever before. Among other things, it's a bonanza year for billion-dollar law firms. Eleven firms generated more than $1 billion in revenues in 2006, up from seven firms that hit the billion-dollar mark in 2005. Firms new to the party include DLA Piper US, Greenberg Traurig, Kirkland & Ellis and Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw, which apparently ensured its staying power with its recent partnership purge. And other firms bolstered earnings through the most pedestrian of alternative billing arrangements: the contingency fee.

With earnings like this, it's not surprising that firms can keep notching up associate salaries to provide the fuel that drives the law firm engine. But just as we're reaching the point of peak oil when it comes to our nation's energy supply, are firms likewise embarking on a peak associate supply, where there simply aren't enough bodies to sustain law firms' work and profits? 

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on April 30, 2007 at 06:55 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)


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