Legal Industry News
October 2, 2012
Mergers Roil The American Lawyer’s Increasingly Top-Heavy Global 100 Chart; Top Firms Vie for Emerging Market Deals, Add Offices Beyond U.S. and Europe
An uptick in law firm mergers has roiled the Global 100, the annual survey of the world’s largest law firms published in the October issue of ALM’s The American Lawyer and on americanlawyer.com.
Total gross revenues for the group grew 7 percent over the prior year, the largest increase since 2007, but the list is getting more top-heavy. Gross revenues of the top 25 firms jumped $5.1 billion over the last two years compared to only an $800 million increase for the second quartile firms.
Seventy-six of the Global 100 are American, 14 British, six Australian, and one each from Canada, France, Spain and the Netherlands.
Baker & McKenzie retained the top spot with $2.313 billion gross revenue in its most recent fiscal year, but DLA Piper, which integrated financially with Australian ally Phillips Fox, moved up a slot into second place with $2.247 billion, passing Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom’s $2.165 billion. Latham & Watkins, Clifford Chance and Linklaters follow as last year. Allen & Overy overtook Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer for seventh place, while Kirkland & Ellis squeezed past Hogan Lovells for ninth. Legal Week provided survey results for European firms.
Mergers fueled some dramatic shifts in the standings. For instance, Norton Rose combined with Deneys Reitz, Ogilvy Renault and MacLeod Dixon, upping its rank from 34th to 14th, having started in 67th two years ago. Clyde & Co broke into the list through a merger with Barlow Lyde & Gilbert, the largest-ever ever between two U.K. firms. Unaided by mergers, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan rose 16 places to number 42. On the downside, Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz slipped 12 places.
Wachtell, however, retained dominance in profits per partner of $4.46 million, followed by Quinn Emanuel with $4.16 million and Sullivan & Cromwell with $3.22 million.
The only non-American firm in the top 20 for profits per partner was Slaughter and May in 7th place with $2.89 million. Seventy-four firms had at least $1 million. In terms of head count, Baker led with 4,004 lawyers, followed by DLA Piper, Clifford Chance, Jones Day, and Allen & Overy. Thirty-four of the Global 100 had over 1,000 lawyers.
The Global 100 are clearly getting more global, as the number of firms with offices in 10 or more countries rose from 20 to 24 and those with at least half their lawyers based outside their home country up from nine to 14. Many of the new foreign offices and lawyers are in Australia.
With the world’s largest firms looking past the U.S. and Europe for the future growth, The American Lawyer took a closer look at who is handling cross-border emerging market deals. In fact, the Global 100, led by the UK’s Magic Circle firms, are doing just fine. According to a study commissioned from mergermarket, the top firms counseling on such transactions from 2010 to 2012, in order of cumulative deal values, were Linklaters, Freshfields, Skadden, Clifford Chance, and Allen & Overy.
The American Lawyer’s editorial package also includes features on the competition among global and local firms for Africa’s burgeoning legal market, and on Brazil’s Mattos Filho, Veiga Filho, Marrey Jr. e Quiroga Advogados effort to reinvent itself with help from some top American firms.
ALM, an integrated media company, is a provider of specialized business news and information, focused primarily on the legal and commercial real estate sectors. ALM’s market-leading brands include The American Lawyer, Corporate Counsel, GlobeSt.com, Insight Conferences, Law.com, Law Journal Press, LegalTech, The National Law Journal and Real Estate Forum. Headquartered in New York City, ALM was formed in 1997.
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