The annual National Law Journal 350 list of the largest law firms in the US by headcount is always a revealing bellwether of both the US and global legal market.
According to the NLJ’s summary, modest growth was the key takeaway this year– lawyer numbers at the 350 largest firms grew by 5,562 in 2013 – or 3.9%.
Bear in mind, though, that mergers with foreign law firms accounted for a significant amount of that percentage.
Reporter Leigh Jones noted that overall, “law firms are at the point between surviving and thriving.”
The full analysis shows not just overall lawyer numbers, but a breakdown of equity partners, salaried partners, and associates.
12 firms joined the NLJ 350 this year: some international biggies that have emerged through large law firm mergers such as Dentons and Norton Rose Fulbright, and other strong regional firms such as Novak Druce, Ober | Kaler, Lewis Roca, and Verrill Dana.
While the NLJ 350 remains a definitive snapshot of law firm activity, a new entrant into the lawyer headcount space has emerged in the last year to shake things up.
In March 2014, Law360 released the first ever Law360 400 – its inaugural ranking of the 400 largest law firms in the United States.
The National Law Journal first published its survey of the top 200 largest firms by headcount in 1978, and then expanded to 250 firms in 1983.
In 2012, the NLJ 250 grew to become the NLJ 350.
Elsewhere, last month the National Law Journal released its 2014 Midsize Hot List – a list of 20 law firms with between 51 and 150 lawyers that have successfully challenged their bigger competitors.