Revenue record in 2007 for US law firms thanks to M&A boom

May 2, 2008 The American Lawyer reported today that two law firms, Skadden, Arps and Latham & Watkins, broke the industry’s $2 billion gross revenue barrier for the first time. It took Skadden 51 years to reach the $1 billion gross mark, but only eight more to hit $2 billion

The AmLaw 100, the nation’s 100 highest-grossing law firms, grew total gross revenue by 13.6 percent last year to $64.5 billion, finishing the best sustained growth spurt since The American Lawyer is tracking law firm financials since 1984.

Key findings of this year’s survey include:

-> Wachtell, Lipton regained the top position in profits per equity partner with a record-breaking PEP of $4.9 million. Nineteen firms had profits per partner of $2 million or more, four more than last year.

-> Three other firms achieved PEP in excess of $3m: Manhattan leaders Cravath Swaine & Moore and Sullivan & Cromwell and Los Angeles-based litigation specialist Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges

-> Since 2003, PEP has jumped by $438,000, to an average of $1.3 million. It had previously taken the Am Law 100 firms 15 years, from 1987 to 2002, to make a similar gain.

-> Last year, the average number of equity partners grew by 2.6 percent, or almost five partners.

-> Head count grew by 6.8 percent to 77,816 lawyers. The fastest-growing category was non-equity partners, which now account for 35 percent of all partners. If these growth rates continue, the number of non-equity partners will exceed equity partners by 2015.

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