NEW YORK (June 30, 2008) – LAWFUEL – The July issue of The American Lawyer reports that, for once, pro bono may be safe from a recession. Based on the magazine’s annual survey results, released today, 2007 proved to be a banner year for volunteer legal service. The average Am Law firm logged 25,893 hours, up 13.2 percent from 2006, while total hours contributed by the nation’s 200 largest firms grew to 4.8 million—a record. Also in this issue, Munger, Tolles & Olson has replaced Debevoise & Plimpton at the top of The American Lawyer’s “A-List” ranking of the most elite firms in the U.S. For these and other stories, visit www.americanlawyer.com.
Pro bono hours increased by 590,000 from 2006. Using a blended billing rate of $300 an hour, the big firms contributed an estimated $1.45 billion in pro bono time last year. Perhaps more importantly, the firms reported that 42.3 percent of their lawyers performed at least 20 hours of pro bono work, a 12 percent increase in the number of lawyers meeting this standard and also a new record.
“From helping disabled veterans win their federal benefits, to securitizing microfinance loans across the globe, to fighting off mortgage scammers, this is work that reminds many people why they set out to be lawyers,” said Aric Press, editor in chief. “We’ve often chided the profession in the past. This year, congratulations are in order.”
The 20-member A-List, drawn from four different ALM rankings, looks beyond business results to identify Am Law firms that set the standard for their peers.
Munger, Tolles, headquartered in Los Angeles, combined the group’s highest associate satisfaction score with solid rankings in revenue per lawyer, pro bono work and diversity, to edge out runner-up Latham and Watkins and replace Debevoise & Plimpton as the A-List leader after a four-year run at the top.
This year, three firms fell off the list (Howrey; Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi; Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr). Others climbed back on (Sullivan & Cromwell and Covington & Burling), or made their A-List debut (O’Melveny & Myers).
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