Law firms don’t need to be in the AmLaw 100 to create successful professional and personal lives for their attorneys. Focus, creativity and reinvention has helped the Second Hundred survive and thrive.

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 the American Lawyer’s 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.

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