Monday, January 28, 2013

Wells Fargo report shows law firm revenue was up in 2012 for AmLaw 200

In contrast to reports suggesting the halcyon days of BigLaw are gone forever, a new survey from Wells Fargo Private Banking Legal Specialty Group found, to the surprise of most, that revenue was up for the year just concluded for the AmLaw 100 and that the next tier of firms, the so-called AmLaw "Second Hundred," did even better.  The Wall Street Journal Law Blog has the story (subscription required):

2012: It Was a Very Good Year (For Law Firm Revenues)

Against all expectations, in 2012 big law firms actually had what Ol’ Blue Eyes would have called a very good year, according to a preliminary survey out from Wells Fargo Private Bank’s Legal Specialty Group.

. . . .

Law firm prospects appear to have bucked up in 2012, bringing numbers that, on average, were better than what Wells Fargo has seen in the past few years since the recession.

“This came as a complete surprise,” Mr. Grossman, national managing director for the group, told Law Blog on Monday.

Some highlights:

  • 5% increase in gross law firm revenues, compared to 2011
  • Net income was up nearly 6%
  • Profits per equity partner increased by nearly 5%

. . . .

Another interesting trend: a split between the respondents from the top 100-grossing firms as ranked by American Lawyer, compared to those a bit further down the ladder in what law wonks call the AmLaw Second Hundred.

“The AmLaw Second Hundred outperformed the First Hundred,” Mr. Grossman said, adding that usually the reverse happens.

Here’s a breakdown:

AmLaw 100 Respondents Second 100 Respondents
Average Revenue Up 4.5% Up 6.5%
Average Net Income Up 5.6% Up 6.4%
Best-Performing Firm   (by revenue) Up 17% Up 23%
Worst-Performing Firm  (by revenue) Down 4% Down 6%

However you slice it, the averages are looking up compared to the years after the recession, when demand for legal services cratered.

Continue reading here.


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