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February 1, 2010 2:40 PM

THE AM LAW 100: Revenues Up, Profits Down at Bryan Cave

Posted by D.M. Levine

2009 was a tough year for Bryan Cave. The 995-lawyer St. Louis-based firm has reported an uptick in gross revenue for the year, from $502,509,000 in 2008 to $554,817,000 in 2009--an increase of 10.41 percent. But the increase is at least partly explained by the firm's 15.60 percent rise in head count for the year. Bryan Cave grew from about 861 lawyers in 2008 to about 996 in 2009. The growth pushed revenue per lawyer down 4.49 percent, from $583,363 in 2008 to $557,157 in 2009. Profits per equity partner (PPP) also saw a 5.51 percent drop, to $622,579.

Bryan Cave enacted some of the same cost-cutting measures undertaken by many other Am Law 200 firms in 2009, including layoffs. Last February, Bryan Cave cut a total of 134 employees, including about 58 attorneys (roughly five percent of its total lawyer head count) and 76 staffers. In a statement explaining the cuts last year, Bryan Cave Chair Don Lents cited "the most difficult economic conditions most of us have ever encountered."

Also last year, Above the Law reported that the firm had offered some incoming associates up to $70,000 to walk away from first-year positions that they had been offered. In June, Bryan Cave announced that the firm would cut all associate salaries by 10 percent. The news came amid an overall firmwide shift away from lockstep compensation for associates to more merit-based remuneration.

Despite the layoffs last year, Bryan Cave also added lawyers to its roster through its merger with Atlanta-based Powell Goldstein. The merger took effect on January 1, 2009 and brought 220 attorneys to Bryan Cave.

Bryan Cave declined to comment for this story.

This report is part of The Am Law Daily's ongoing Web coverage of The Am Law 100’s 2009 financials. Results are preliminary. Final rankings and full results for The Am Law 100 will be published in The American Lawyer's May 2010 issue and on AmericanLawyer.com. The Am Law Second Hundred will be published in the June issue.

The final published results of last year's Am Law 100 rankings are available here.

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