Thursday, April 30, 2009

Poor, poor partners

The AmLaw 100 is out, and many big law firms had a decline in revenue last year. And you've seen many if not most of them whacking staff, associates, non-equity partners and even some equity partners in response.

So how much should we cry? I'm not so sure. Take Chicago, for instance. According to the Tribune, "Average profits per partner at six of the 11 [Chicago-based firms in the AmLaw 100] either fell or were flat compared with 2007." That means five were up, perhaps modestly, but up nonetheless.

And those that fell?

Mayer Brown: PPP went down to $1.11 million.

Sonnenschein: oh my gosh, the PPP went down from $915K to $805. The partners may have to cut back to one country club membership.

Kirkland was the big boy, as it usually is, with flat PPP of $2.47 million. Get out the violins. No tears here.

In short? BigLaw's a business and it has been for years now. Most partners are still making plenty of money and to ensure profits do not tumble too much they are dumping employees. With a glut of talent there is no need to stockpile. Much as I might want to I can't excoriate them for doing it, because it is probably the right business decision for most. Just keep these realities in mind and don't have blinkers on.


Deal Junkie said...

hey, did you see this?

David Stejkowski said...

So, so sad. See, he came from the generation in which partnership actually meant that.

Now even partners are fungible, as evidenced by what I understand was his de-equitization from the firm previously, followed now by his apparent firing. He was clearly a brilliant guy with Supreme arguments under his belt and all that.

But without rainmaking these days I guess none of that matters anymore. This is part of the transformation of law from profession to big business. And I'm not sure I said it very well, but yes, I do not like it. Good "business" decisions are not necessarily good partnership decisions.