There are many different and exciting ways to rank law firms. How prestigious are they? How much money are they making? How much do partners earn? How much are associates earning in cash compensation? How big are they?
Yes, size matters, and because the legal profession is obsessed with every single measurable and quantifiable factor law firms have to offer, there’s obviously a ranking for that — two, in fact. So, which Biglaw firm is the biggest of them all? And which U.S.-based Biglaw firm is the largest in the nation? The National Law Journal and Law360 (sub. req.) can help us answer these questions. Last night, Law360 released its master list of the top 400 U.S.-based law firms by headcount, and this morning, the NLJ did the same, but for the top 500 law firms in the country. What did these dueling rankings reveal about what law firm headcount looks like after the wild lateral ride that was 2021?
These are the 10 largest law firms in America, according to NLJ, along with some insights on the list:
- Baker McKenzie
- DLA Piper
- Norton Rose Fulbright
- Latham & Watkins
- Kirkland & Ellis
- Hogan Lovells
- White & Case
- Jones Day
- Greenberg Traurig
- Morgan Lewis
Baker McKenzie retained the top spot, with 4,795 lawyers and only 2% growth in head count. DLA Piper stayed steady in second place, with only an 0.8% increase to 4,028 attorneys. Norton Rose Fulbright managed to remain in third place, shedding only 3% of its bench to 3,084 from 3,178 lawyers.
Of course, the larger the firm, the more lawyers it can lose or gain without impacting its overall head count too much. Yet even some large percentage swings at the top of the NLJ 500 did not translate into changes in the leaderboard. Latham & Watkins remained fourth on the NLJ 500 despite a 7.7% increase in head count to 3,078 from 2,858. Similarly, Kirkland & Ellis deepened its bench by 300 lawyers and 11%—to 3,025 from 2,725—without managing to improve its fifth-place NLJ 500 ranking, while Hogan Lovells remained in the sixth spot despite shedding 3.1% of its bench to 2,532 attorneys from 2,612.
Rounding out the top 10, White & Case improved one position to seventh, with 9.2% head count growth to 2,464 from 2,257, swapping rankings with Jones Day as it shed 3.4% of its lawyers. Greenberg Traurig and Morgan Lewis & Bockius held steady in the ninth and 10th slots respectively, with both of their benches remaining relatively steady.
And these are the 10 largest U.S.-based law firms in America, per Law360:
- Kirkland & Ellis: 2,798
- Latham: 2,251
- Greenberg Traurig: 1,929
- Morgan Lewis: 1,689
- Sidley: 1,681
- Lewis Brisbois: 1,613
- Holland & Knight: 1,596
- Jones Day: 1,573
- DLA Piper: 1,572
- Goodwin: 1,436
Click here to see the NLJ’s full list of the 500 largest law firms in the country, and to see click here to see Law360’s full list of the 400 largest U.S.-based law firms in the country.
Congratulations to the Top 10 on both lists for keeping your Biglaw firms bigger than all the rest. As for every other firm, keep growing and someday you’ll be a Biglaw behemoth too.
The Law360 400: Tracking The Largest US Law Firms [Law360 (sub. req.)]
The NLJ 500: Ranked by Head Count [National Law Journal]
Staci Zaretsky is a senior editor at Above the Law, where she’s worked since 2011. She’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to email her with any tips, questions, comments, or critiques. You can follow her on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.
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