Law is a big service-based business. Business, finance, taxation, litigation, corporate affairs, conflicts, patents, copyrights, antitrust, property, labor, arbitration, as well as administration, political, and social matters all require law expertise (advisory or enforcement). This article gives a brief overview of the top law firms based on recent revenue numbers available at the time of writing this article. While there are other criteria to rank law firms (such as revenue per partner/lawyer, number of lawyers, or year-on-year percent growth), annual revenue remains the most accurate, consistent, and easy to follow:
- Baker & McKenzie: Founded in 1949 and headquartered in Chicago, Baker & McKenzie employs 4200 lawyers with 77 offices across 47 different countries. It recently surpassed its nearest competitor, DLA Piper, in terms of reported revenues to get to the top slot with $2.54 billion (as of June 2014).
- DLA Piper: One of the biggest global law firms with more than 4200 lawyers, DLA Piper came into existence after a mega-merger of multiple international law firms in 2005. Headquartered in London and Chicago, this firm competes neck-and-neck for the top slot with annual revenues at $2.48 billion for 2013.
- Latham & Watkins LLP: Headquartered in Los Angeles with offices in 14 countries and more than 2,000 lawyers on board, Latham & Watkins ranks third in terms of annual revenues, with a reported $2.226 billion for 2013.
- Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP: or simply Skadden, was founded in 1948. With headquarters in New York, Skadden has 23 offices across the globe with an employee roster of more than 1600 lawyers. Its reported annual revenues were $2.21 billion in 2013.
- Clifford Chance LLP: Founded in 1987 through a merger, Clifford Chance is headquartered in London, has offices in 26 countries, and has a roster of more than 3200 lawyers. For 2013-14, its reported revenues were £1.359 billion (approx. $ 2.12 billion). According to the company’s website, primary client groups include “corporates from all the commercial and industrial sectors, governments, regulators, trade bodies and not-for-profit organizations.”
- Kirkland & Ellis LLP: Kirkland & Ellis LLP was founded in 1909 and takes pride in having a niche set of corporate clients served across the corporate, taxation, litigation, intellectual property, and restructuring fields. With more than 1600 lawyers on board, its 2013 revenues stood at $ 2.016 billion.
- Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP: Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer or simply “Freshfields,” is an international law firm based in London with 28 offices and 4,859 employees across 17 countries. Its 2013 revenues were reported to be £1.23 billion (approximately $ 1.92 billion). While the current Freshfields was formed by a mega-merger of UK, German, and German-Austrian firms in 2000, the earlier Freshfields dates back to 1743. It is a member of the coveted “magic circle” of British law firms.
- Linklaters LLP: Founded in 1838, Linklaters is another London-based global law firm. It had reported revenues of £1.255 billion (approx. 1.98 billion) in 2013 and a total staff of 4,600 in 29 offices across 26 countries.
- Allen & Overy: Headquartered in London with 46 offices in 32 countries, Allen & Overy is celebrating 84 successful years. As of April 30, 2014, its total revenues were £1.234 billion (approx. $ 1.925 billion).
- Jones Day: Founded in Cleveland, OH in 1893, Jones Day has more than 2,400 lawyers in 41 offices in 19 countries. The firm operates as a commercial full-service law firm across all practice areas of law, and its recent reported revenues are $ 1.716 billion.
The Bottom Line:
Law firms can have multiple practice areas, and for the world’s top firms, expertise is required at both the local and global levels. The law firms listed above are successfully running their business across multiple practice areas, and have been effective in managing billion dollar revenues consistently.