Baker & McKenzie reclaims title of world’s biggest law firm

Global law firms have been charting a slow but steady growth and now it seems that the title for the biggest law firm in the world goes back to Baker & McKenzie with a reported $2.54 billion gross revenue in 2013. Getting back to the top comes right after Baker released their financials back in August, but Baker is not the only international law firm who has seen growth this past year.

According to the Global 100 survey conducted by American Lawyer, revenue grew 4.3% among the world’s 100 largest law firms last year, to a figure of $88.7 billion, a record for the industry. Collective headcount also grew by 3.9%, with more than 112,000 lawyers being employed across firms.

AmLaw writes that this growth has been spurred by stabilizing economies, resurgent transactional markets and the foray of law firms into markets that were previously unavailable in Europe, Asia, Latin America and Africa. Although the figures are anything but exceptional, the slow, steady growth is a welcome sign after the global economic crisis took a toll on law firm financials.

U.K. legal consultant Tony Williams calls this a sustained recovery, with a prognosis that is certainly better than it was a few years ago.

What about the other firms? Here are the numbers for the top 10 law firms, ranked by gross revenue in 2013:

  1. Baker & McKenzie: $2.54 billion
  2. DLA Piper: $2.48 billion
  3. Latham & Watkins LLP: $2.29 billion
  4. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP: $2.23 billion
  5. Clifford Chance: $2.13 billion
  6. Kirkland & Ellis LLP: $2.02 billion
  7. Linklaters: $1.96 billion
  8. Allen & Overy: $1.93 billion
  9. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer: $1.92 billion
  10. Norton Rose Fulbright: $1.9 billion

Some of the growth is also due to mergers, with names such as Norton Rose Fulbright, Dentons and King & Wood Mallesons being recently created after cross-border combinations.

New York’s Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP has had a 15% revenue increase last year, being one of the many that was boosted in part by a revitalized mergers and acquisitions market.

U.S. law firms have sought growth by expanding in overseas markets, preeminently China and the Middle East. AmLaw reports that Am Law 200 firms now have over 25,000 lawyers that work in foreign offices in more than 70 countries. While Europe remains a focal point, China now holds the second-largest population of lawyers from the Am Law 200, after the United Kingdom. Countries such as Australia, the UAE and South Africa are some of the newer additions that have shown exceptional growth in head count.