Is the Windy City legal market heading leeward?

Any sailors out there would appreciate the pun. Those of you who are not, leeward is away from the wind, and in 2013, many top Chicago firms like the rest of the legal market, were getting by without as much wind in their sails.

I again am copying an article for your review today by Steven Strahler because for some reason I was not allowed to share it directly from the source.

DLA Piper U.S. LLP and Baker & McKenzie LLP retained their one-two ranking on American Lawyer magazine’s list of the nation’s biggest law firms by revenue. Chicago-based Kirkland & Ellis LLP, holding at No. 5, once again was the top firm in the city, as measured by profit per partner.

The results, based on 2013 data, show the tough economic conditions confronting much of the legal industry.
Revenue for DLA Piper, which has deep Chicago roots, was essentially flat at $2.48 billion, while Chicago-based Baker & McKenzie’s rose 4.7 percent, to $2.42 billion.
While still spectacular, Kirkland’s average profit per partner, at $3.28 million, barely increased from 2012.
Revenue on average for the 100 top-grossing law firms in America rose 5.4 percent and profit per partner just 0.2 percent, the magazine said. Revenue per lawyer was off slightly.
Other Chicago-based movers on the list all lost ground when ranked by revenue:
• Sidley Austin LLP dropped to ninth from eighth.
• Mayer Brown LLP went from 16th to 18th.
• Winston & Strawn LLP fell to 39th from 34th.
• Jenner & Block LLP landed at 87th from 75th.
Jenner had the second-largest decline — 7.8 percent — in revenue per lawyer of any firm on the list of 100.
Revenue rankings for three other Chicago law firms were unchanged: McDermott Will & Emery LLP (29th), Seyfarth Shaw LLP (60th) and Katten Muchin & Rosenman LLP (62nd).
A representative of Mayer Brown declined to comment; the other firms had no immediate comment.
Jenner previously blamed federal budget cuts and a government shutdown for two consecutive years of flat or declining performance.
American Lawyer said 20 firms dubbed “super-rich,” including Kirkland, were pulling away from the pack, while six international firms, such as DLA Piper and Baker & McKenzie, with separate profit centers, were falling behind on key metrics.
Nevertheless, Kirkland’s revenue gain of 4.1 percent last year trailed the top 100 average.


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