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Baker & McKenzie Tops AmLaw Global 100, DLA Piper Comes Second

10/02/13

Baker & McKenzie

Comes Second

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The recently released Global 100 list of law firms from the American Lawyer shows that whatever be the economy, big law has got it right. The list toppers remain virtually unchanged, and continue to shift positions between themselves. The ABA Journal noted the presence of the verein holding structure among seven out of the top ten.

The verein holding structure used by the law firms with top gross revenue in the world allows law firms to form mergers without concurrent and absolute financial integration. This helps in boosting average revenue for the law firms using the structure.

Both Baker & McKenzie, which topped the AmLaw Global 100 list this year and DLA Piper, which came second, use the verein structure.

Headcount, of course, does matter in the number of offices, and resultant gross revenue for firms. Baker & McKenzie with more than 4000 lawyers has offices in more than 40 countries, while DLA Piper with more than 3000 lawyers has offices in more than 30 countries, and Clifford Chance
which came third has more than 2000 lawyers with offices in more than 20 countries.

However, the focus of DLA Piper is decidedly more US-centric than Baker & McKenzie. While DLA Piper has only 66% of its lawyers outside the home country, 84% of Baker & McKenzie's lawyers are outside US.

A Chinese law firm, Dacheng, which came at the tenth spot on attorney headcount is a radical departure from other law firms in the top ten list on attorney headcount considering that it has offices in only five countries and only 6% of its lawyers are outside the home country.

However, when it comes to profit-per-partner, the law firms grossing highest revenue in the world were left behind by others. Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz
topped the list on profit per partner with average partner profit of $4,460,000; Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan came second with a profit- per-partner of $4,160,000. Those scores are sufficient to explain why law students think becoming a law firm partner at one of the top law firms is the holy grail of their existence.

According to the AmLaw study, profit per partner topped $1 million in at least seventy four firms in the Global 100 list with US-based firms representing nine of the top 10 and 19 out of the top 20 law firms.

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