Robert J. Ambrogi on Legal Blog Watch has relayed the American Lawyer's results on the top 100 global law firms. They don't make happy reading for managing partners. Clifford Chance's profits per partner fell by 41%.
Yet law firm revenues haven't suffered too much in the financial crisis--a matter of a few percentage points. Six firms break into the $2 billion band, of which four are UK firms. And 18 firms grossed over $1 billion.
Out of the top 100 American Lawyer says:
American and British players continue to dominate: Seventy-five of the world’s top-grossing firms are American, and 14 are British. Rounding out this year’s list are five Australian firms; two firms each from France and Spain; and one firm each from the Netherlands and Canada.When it comes to profits per partner, however, niche is king. Wachtell Lipton and Quinn Emmanuel outstrip the bigger firms by a considerable margin at over $4 and $3 million respectively. But the rest of the top 10 are OK: none is less than $2.5 million. So no tears needed. In this group only three firms were British.
This is where one sees the difference between the US and UK legal markets. The US market has a huge domestic market to work in. The UK by comparison is tiny and therefore its law firms have to forage overseas. The only exception is Slaughter and May, which has excellent relations with the UK Treasury and has done a lot of work on the financial crisis restructuring.
Despite the doom and gloom law firms are beginning to see a rise in their work. What the recession has enabled them to do is downsize by getting rid of surplus associates and partners. That's good for the PEP.