Still Seems Like A Lot To Me:

From's article on the AmLaw 200 (firms 101-200):

Membership in a megafirm isn't the only ticket to living high on the hog. The partners in The Am Law 200's Second Hundred — firms number 101 to 200 on our list of the nation's highest-grossing firms — are doing just fine, despite the fact that their average size is just 260 lawyers. Second Hundred gross revenues went up more than 7 percent in 2004, on average, while revenue per lawyer grew by almost 9 percent. What's more, the Second Hundred saw almost an 11 percent growth in profits per partner. Thirteen Second Hundred firms had average profits per equity partner of $1 million or more, six more than in 2003.

Despite that cheery news, the reality is that the Second Hundred is still the poor cousin of The Am Law 100 — firms 1 through 100 in our ranking — and getting poorer by comparison. The Second Hundred's average profits per equity partner in 2004 ($566,000) significantly trail that of The Am Law 100 ($959,000). It's a gap that's been growing consistently, albeit slowly, since at least 2001, when the difference was about $323,000 (it is now $393,000). More than a third of the Am Law 100 firms — 37, to be exact — had profits per partner above $1 million in 2004, compared to the Second Hundred's 13. Eight Am Law 100 firms pulled in $2 million or more in profits per equity partner, while only one Second Hundred firm (Boies, Schiller & Flexner) made that cut.

Of course, I would never trade the satisfaction and intellectual stimulation of life as a law professor for mere lucre (or something like that...).


Jim Rhoads (mail):
I was in private practice for over 33 years, with big, small and mid-sized firms.

The most economically and professionally successful of those firms, I started with another lawyer from scratch when we were in our early thirties. At the outset, we had nothing but an idea and around 10 modestly profitable clients between the two of us (most of which were my partner's).

Over the next 17 years that firm grew to 50 attorneys in Atlanta, DC, San Diego and Dallas, and the profits per partner were comparable to some of the largest firms in Atlanta, GA, our home base. We were listed among the top boutique lawfirms in the country.

AmLaw has done a great deal to systematize one way to look at "success" in private law practice. But this gross guantification is not necessarily the best way to look at success. Job satisfaction, family considerations, "doing good", and intellectual stimulation are all important as maturity takes over. Money only goes so far.

Over the years, I have come to realize that law practice is as tough to manage as any business. Most of the management, however, is done by amateur managers without a sophisticated understanding of strategic planning or general management. Firms tend to get where they are by inertia, luck or the dedication of a few of their partners who have business savvy or training.

It is truly amazing we are as "successful" as we are.
7.31.2005 4:38pm
Robert Schwartz (mail):
Of course the lawyers who really got the bucks are the contingency fee sharks. They are the ones with the private jets. The Am Law 100 types are often drowning in expenses trying to maintain a lifestyle in New York or other high cost place.
8.1.2005 9:56pm
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