The Firms

April 29, 2011 5:22 PM

Big Ol' Baker & McKenzie

Posted by Tom Huddleston Jr.

Baker & McKenzie came out on top again in this year's NLJ 250, The National Law Journal's annual list of the largest U.S. law firms by head count.

The firm has finished first every year since 2009, and this year its head count of 3,774 attorneys outpaces the runner-up, DLA Piper, by 326 even after experiencing a drop of 219 lawyers from the previous year.

Meanwhile, the firm also came out on top on the just released 2011 Am Law 100 list of the top grossing firms in the U.S.. Baker & McKenzie brought in $2.1 billion in gross revenue in 2010, according to The American Lawyer's recently released numbers. While that overall number represented a 0.4 percent drop from 2009, the dip in the firm's head count resulted in profits per partner increasing by 13.1 percent, to $1.125 million per partner.

On Thursday, the NLJ sat down with Eduardo Leite, chairman of the firm's executive committee, to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of being the biggest law firm.

Leite told the NLJ that the firm--with 60 offices worldwide--has grown to its current size because of constant expansion. The firm has grown to a point where it boasts a global roster with "teams of local attorneys who are very knowledgeable--not just about the laws, but also about the culture, the ways of doing business, who is who, and that is very important in the client's eyes," he says. 

One disadvantage to the firm's size and geographic scope is the difficulty, for Leite, of being omnipresent. "I've been traveling nonstop," he says. "You should see my passport." He adds that the firm makes an effort to bring together partners in distant offices who are working together, instead of relying solely on conference calls and e-mails, in order to give clients the impression that their partners are a close-knit group. 

Leite also predicts modest growth in head count this year, noting that the firm has been bulking up in competitive regions like New York and Paris. "I would say I'm positive about growth, but I don't expect anything drastic or extraordinary," he tells NLJ.

Click here for the full story from The National Law Journal.

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