The revenue picture for law firms in 2012 was bright for large law firms — and bleak for smaller shops.
The Survey of Law Firm Economics, a joint project of The National Law Journal
and ALM Legal Intelligence, shows that at law firms with more than 150
attorneys, revenue per lawyer (RPL) rose by 8.5 percent last year. But
at law firms on the other end of the spectrum — those with one to nine
attorneys — revenue plunged by 8.1 percent. The average per-lawyer gross
receipts at larger firms were $499,518, compared with $302,818 at the
Overall, per-lawyer revenue inched up by 1.1 percent
at law firms of all sizes during 2012 — welcome news compared with
2011, when it sank by 4.3 percent.
At the same time, profits per
lawyer were up ever so slightly — by 0.3 percent — but that still
represented an improvement over 2011's decline of 4.2 percent. A 2.6
percent increase in expenses per lawyer in 2012 contributed to the
basically flat profits number, compared with a decrease in expenses by
4.4 percent during 2011.