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“Second Hundred” law firms increase staff, hoping low rates will drive business

The AmLaw 100 firms tend to keep headcounts low

American Lawyer’s “Second Hundred” firms—the law firms that rank #101-200 in revenue—seem to be taking a different approach to earning profits than the first hundred, the Wall Street Journal reports. The Second Hundred includes mid-sized regional firms like Denver’s Holland & Hart and Ice Miller in the Midwest.

The AmLaw 100 firms tend to restrict the number of lawyers who make partner, and the headcount of their firms in general, guaranteeing large profits for partners. The Second Hundred, on the other hand, are hiring more lawyers and making more of them partners, the hope being that the resulting lower rates will be appealing to clients in this troubled economy. In 2012, the Second Hundred increased equity partners by 1.1 percent, and non-equity partners by 10.1 percent. In contrast, the AmLaw 100 did not increase equity partners, and increased non-equity partners by 2.5 percent.

For the moment, though, it seems that both strategies are viable. In 2012, the AmLaw 100 firms grew their revenues by 3.4 percent, and the Second Hundred grew theirs by 3.2 percent.

 

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