By Casey Sullivan
Feb 21 (Reuters) - An early look at the top U.S. law firms'
financial figures for 2012 shows them reporting a moderate
uptick in revenue and profits compared to 2011, according to
numbers reported to The American Lawyer.
At the start of each new year, the publication canvases the
top 200 U.S. law firms by revenue and profits and then compiles
the data into a ranking in May. In the months leading up to the
ranking, the American Lawyer publishes each law firm's
financials individually. Reuters aggregated the results to date.
Out of 45 law firms that reported financials in the first
two months of 2013 to AmLaw, revenue rose an average of 6
percent, up from 4.4 percent in 2011. Profits per partner
increased an average of 7.4 percent, up from an average of 5.1
percent a year earlier.
The figures are in line with recent studies on law firm
revenue by Citibank and Wells Fargo.
The firm reporting the highest profits per partner was Los
Angeles-based Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, with $4.44
million, a 6.6 percent increase over 2011. Quinn Emanuel, which
last August won a $1 billion jury verdict for Apple in its
patent battle with Samsung, did not respond to a request for
In second place for profits per partner was Irell & Manella,
with $3.42 million, a 19 percent increase over 2011. The
American Lawyer noted that in 2012 the Los Angeles-based firm
had 4 percent fewer equity partners than in 2011. The managing
partner was not immediately available for comment.
The firm with the most robust growth in profits per partner
for 2012, jumping 42.2 percent to $1.45 million, was
Houston-based Bracewell & Giuliani. The firm attributed the
growth in part to the December 2011 acquisition of 14 partners
from Vinson & Elkins to launch a public finance practice.
In terms of revenue growth, Colorado-based Holland & Hart
topped the list with a 22 percent increase, to $248 million.
Bracewell & Giuliani came in second, with a 19.7 increase, to
Other law firms that reported growth included Chicago-based
Sidley Austin; New York's Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison;
and Los Angeles law firms Gibson Dunn & Crutcher and Irell &
Nine of the 45 law firms reported a decline in profits per
partner while five reported a decline in revenue.
Kansas City-based Shook Hardy & Bacon, with 470 lawyers,
reported the largest decline in revenue and profits out of the
37 law firms. Profits per partner dipped 16 percent, to
$900,000, and revenue sunk 7.2 percent, to $317 million. Shook
Hardy managing partner John Murphy attributed the shrinkage to
the loss of a major tobacco client, Lorillard.
Other firms with reduced profits per partner included
Washington-based Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld; Greenberg
Traurig; and Chicago's McDermott Will & Emery and Jenner &
The firms attributed the downturn to expenses, including
headhunter fees for recent lateral partner hires and rent for
newly opened offices.
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