For the past three years, Baker & McKenzie has taken the top spot in the American Lawyer’s Global 100, the magazine’s ranking of the 100 highest-grossing law firms in the world. With 74 offices in 46 counties, the firm has a presence in almost as many countries as Starbucks (which is in 50 different countries around the globe).
Baker saw its financial metrics rise like bread in the last fiscal year. Gross revenue grew by 4.6 percent to $2.42 billion; net income rose by an even larger amount, 9.1 percent, to $862 million; and profits per equity partner increased by 10.1 percent, hitting $1.2 million.
But this strong performance wasn’t enough to keep Baker at #1. Who is the new top dog?
The world’s top-grossing law firm is the similarly ubiquitous DLA Piper, with offices in more than 30 countries. DLA grew its revenue by 8.6 percent to $2.44 billion, narrowly edging out Baker at $2.42 billion.
(Candidly, $2.44 billion versus $2.42 billion seems like a tie, especially in the world of fuzzy law firm financials. But saying that there’s a new #1 makes for better headlines — and more pageviews too. Cf. this Onion article, “Let Me Explain Why Miley Cyrus’ VMA Performance Was Our Top Story This Morning.”)
Even though Baker may have slipped behind DLA in terms of total revenue, Baker still has more
baristas attorneys. In terms of headcount, Baker has a mind-boggling 4,097 lawyers (up 2.3 percent from 4,004), compared to DLA’s mini-army of 4,036 attorneys. But a difference of sixty or so lawyers is nothing at these levels; all DLA needs to do is open or absorb another office somewhere to overtake Baker.
Meanwhile, Baker is expanding in Africa too. Last July, it opened up in Casablanca. Hopefully that new office will thrive — but if not, they’ll always have Paris.
How did other firms fare? We’ll find out in the next few weeks, when Am Law releases its complete Global 100 rankings.
Baker Loses Top Global 100 Spot Despite Record Revenues [Am Law Daily via Morning Docket]