25 Apr 2019

Am Law 100 nearing pre-recession growth rates

The 2019 Am Law 100 data sees a healthy industry that in 2018 continued to show significant gains in key financial metrics.


This year’s Am Law 100 data shows gross revenue grew 8 percent on average, net income increased by 7.8 percent, profit per equity partner grew by 6.5 percent, revenue per lawyer moved up 4.2 percent, and head count rose 3.6 percent. 

Nearing pre-recession growth

The 2019 Am Law 100 data, along with several articles analyzing the results, will be made available in the May 2019 online and print issue of The American Lawyer. In June 2019, The American Lawyer will publish its rankings of the second hundred largest firms. Gina Passarella, editor-in-chief of The American Lawyer and ALM’s Global Legal Brands, said “The 2019 Am Law 100 report, which tracks law firm financial performance for the fiscal year 2018, showcases an industry nearing pre-recession growth rates in key financial metrics.” Ms Passarella explained, “After a record year in 2017, the Am Law 100 took progress a giant step further, outpacing gains in all core financial metrics, thanks in large part to increased demand in corporate and litigation matters, the ability to push through greater rate increases and, for some, growth via merger. The biggest difference in 2018 was that more firms than ever shared in that success, as the stratification of the top 100 was less severe.”

Two diverging stories

ALM Intelligence assisted in compiling the Am Law 100 data with the use of Legal Compass. Nicholas Bruch, Principal Analyst at ALM Intelligence, said “This year’s Am Law 100 data sends two, slightly diverging, stories. On one hand, law firms had their best year since the downturn. This is a welcome change from what has been a difficult decade for many law firms. On the other hand, law firm performance this year doesn’t match what we would expect at this late stage in an economic cycle. Ten years into an economic expansion we would expect higher growth rates and bigger improvements in profitability from the Am Law 100. The fact that we are not seeing the performance at that level suggests firms are still facing headwinds from new competitors and pushback from clients. This suggests firms should celebrate their successes over the past year while, at the same time, preparing for challenging market conditions going forward.” Access to the Am Law 2019 data can be found here.