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:
- Latham & Watkins LLP: Headquartered in Los Angeles with offices in 14 countries and more than 2,600 lawyers on board, Latham & Watkins ranks first in terms of annual revenues, with a reported $2.823 billion for 2017.
- Baker McKenzie: Founded in 1949 and headquartered in Chicago, Baker & McKenzie employs 4700 lawyers with 77 offices across 47 different countries. Its reported revenues gets to the top 2 slot with $2.67 billion for FY 2017.
- 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 approximately 2,000 lawyers on board, its 2017 revenues stood at $ 2.651 billion.
- Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP: or simply Skadden, was founded in 1948. With headquarters in New York, Skadden has 22 offices across the globe with an employee roster of more than 1700 lawyers. Its reported annual revenues were $2.495 billion in 2017.
- DLA Piper: One of the biggest global law firms with lawyers in more than 40 countries, DLA Piper came into existence after a mega-merger of multiple international law firms in 2005. Headquartered in London and Chicago, this firm came fifth with annual revenues at $2.47 billion for 2017.
- Dentons: Dentons is the product of a flurry of mergers in the last half decade, most recently with McKenna Long & Aldridge in April 2015, which left the firm with more than 7,000 lawyers and professionals in more than 125 locations in more than 50 countries. It is number six on the list with annual revenue of $2.205 billion in 2017.
- 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 approximately 3,300 lawyers. For 2017, its reported revenues were $ 2.087 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.”
- Allen & Overy: Headquartered in London with 44 offices in 31 countries with roughly 2,800 lawyers, Allen & Overy is celebrating 88 successful years. Its total revenues for 2017 stood at $2.059 billion.
- Jones Day: Founded in Cleveland, OH in 1893, Jones Day has more than 2,500 lawyers in 43 offices in 18 countries. The firm operates as a commercial full-service law firm across all practice areas of law, and its recent reported annual revenues are $ 1.977 billion.
- Linklaters LLP: Founded in 1838, Linklaters is another London-based global law firm. It had reported revenues of $1.95 billion in 2017 and over 2,000 lawyers in 29 offices across 20 countries.
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.