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.