While we are all relishing our last day of this holiday season and gearing up for 2019 and the inevitable challenges the new year will bring, we thought it may be worthwhile to offer a few predictions as to the landscape of BigLaw during the year to come:
At least one AmLaw 50 firm will dissolve or be acquired;
At least two AmLaw 100 firms will dissolve or be acquired;
There will be a record number of lateral partner moves among the AmLaw 100 firms;
There will be a record number of law firm mergers among the AmLaw 200 firms;
All but one of the current AmLaw 50 firms will post increased revenue over 2018;
48 of the current AmLaw 50 firms will post increased profitability over 2018;
AmLaw 50 firms will see record numbers of partner departures leaving to join boutiques or start boutiques of their own;
No transatlantic merger of Global 50 firms will be consummated.
With those predictions on the table, we look forward to reviewing each of our major firms’ reports of their own 2018 performance and tracking their respective performances in 2019 — wishing all of them the best of luck as the gun goes off bright and early tomorrow morning and while we commence our own 19th year of offering support to their attorneys and managing partners as they face their inevitable challenges over the course of the upcoming twelve months!
It does not take a legal market expert to know that the landscape of major law firms is changing like that of the polar ice caps. Since 2000 at least nine firms have collapsed from their perches amidst the Am-Flawed 100 directly into oblivion, namely: Dewey & LeBoeuf, Howrey, Heller Ehrman, Thacher Proffitt, McKee Nelson, Wolf Block, Dreier, Thelen, and Brobeck — or on average one firm every one and a half years.
When Dewey Ballantine and LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae decided in 2007 to join forces to become Dewey & LeBoeuf, mortgage backed securities were still the rage, business was booming and few appreciated the intensity of the storm on the horizon. A mere one year later however, Dewey & LeBoeuf as well as every other major law firm had seen virtually all of its structured finance work disappear and some of those firms were soon to be history.