When we first got our feet wet in legal over 12 years ago, our initial quest was a simple one ..."get to know the key players in this industry, find out how many law firms there are, drill down into market size and trends, and walk away with an accurate statistical picture of the US legal landscape." While our aim back then was absolutely pure and true, we failed miserably at sourcing this info and couldn't find anyone or any institution who had such data at their fingertips. We began to scratch and dig for tidbits of info and slowly but surely began compiling our version of the legal market tip sheet. We published our first "U.S. Legal Industry Overview: Understanding the Landscape" summary (never more than a double sided sheet) in 2004 and have continued most years (we too experience "writers/researchers block") since then. Again, the goal was, and remains, not to create a monstrous research project around the U.S. law firm landscape, but to aggregate a variety of sources (law firm rankings, technology surveys, association reports, consultant market advisories) that already existed, polish things up a bit, and make them widely available. Fast forward to 2010, there still is not a single source (besides back issues of our since retired LegalMarketingNews newsletter), and yes, the same questions still remain, largely unanswered.
With this bit of history, what you'll read below is a compilation of legal market stats, facts, and surveys meant to enlighten and inform, not provide a "silver research bullet". What you'll see here over the coming weeks is a "greatest hits" version of relevant stats and facts starting with U.S. firm statistics and law firm rankings & lists. In addition, we'll focus on the legal 'business' landscape, the Canadian legal market, the UK legal landscape and eventually end up in Australia.
North American Firm Size Statistics 2010 (Sources: Zap Data (a division of Dunn & Bradstreet))
- There are approximately 1,320 law firms in North America with 100 employees or more (~40+ attorneys). Of those, 366 firms have 250 employees or more (~100+ attorneys).
- Firms with 100 employees or more account for roughly 0.4% of the entire U.S. law firm market.
- 68% of all U.S. firms have 2 to 4 employees, 3% higher than in 2007.
- 91% of all U.S. firms and legal service providers have less than 10 employees (approximately 4 attorneys).
- According to the ABA Market Research Department, there are 1,180,386 licensed lawyers’ in the U.S., and roughly 1.5 million legal professionals total including legal administrators, paralegals, IT, etc.
U.S. Law Firm Market Surveys, Lists and Rankings
Law Firm Financials & Demographics
- Am Law 100: 2009 ranking of America’s top 100 revenue grossing law firms included 13 firms exceeding the $1 billion mark. Skadden leads the pack with $2.2 Billion in gross revenue.
- Am Law 200: 2009 rankings range from Bracewell & Giuliani’s $275.5 million to Morris, Manning’s $99 million gross to round out the 200.
- Global 100:Consists of 75 U.S.-based firms and 16 from the UK including the top three - Clifford Chance, Linklaters and Freshfields.
- NLJ 250: National Law Journal’s 2009 list of largest law firms based on number of attorneys includes DLA Piper at the top (3,785) and Nexsen Pruet at 250 with 174 lawyers.
- 2009 InsideLegal/ILTA Member Technology Purchasing Survey: The 9th annual ILTA Member Technology Purchasing Survey includes feedback from 115 ILTA member law firms with 50 or more attorneys, and covers IT budgeting; technology purchasing patterns; selection criteria; purchase influencers; technology trends & IT challenges; and state-of-the-economy questions.
- ILTA’s 2009 Technology Survey: 2009 included 455 respondents representing 88,000 attorneys and 190,000 end users with 31% of responses coming from “under 50” attorney firms. The survey is exclusively focused on the statistics and numbers pertaining to all technologies used in ILTA law firms.
- 2009 ABA Legal Technology Survey Report: Produced by ABA’s Legal Technology Resource Center, the survey consists of 6 volumes including technology basics, law office technology, litigation and courtroom technology, web and communication technology, online research and mobile lawyers.
- 2009 Case, Matter, and Practice Management System Software Study: The ‘CMS Study’ is produced by the University of Florida Levin College of Law's Legal Technology Institute and features a 320 page report detailing current use and future trends of legal case, matter and practice management systems.
Legal Technology Awards
- Law Technology News Awards: The 7th annual LTN Awards in February 2010 recognized the best technology use spanning 8 law firm/legal department and 25 vendor categories.
- ILTA Distinguished Peer Awards: Inaugural recognition during 2010 educational conference; award categories include organization, individual peers, vendors and ILTA region of the year.
- InnovAction Awards: Presented by the College of Law Practice Management and focused on innovation and ingenuity in law practice management (since 2004).
- CIO 100 Awards: Every year, CIO Magazine honors 100 companies that demonstrated excellence and achievement in IT from various industries including legal. Foley & Lardner last won in 2007.
Join InsideLegal.com (for free) today to receive the Legal Market Series including overviews on: U.S. Law Firm Rankings; U.S. Firm Statistics; U.S. Industry Trends & Projections; U.S. Legal Business Landscape; Canadian Legal Market; UK Legal Market; and Australian Legal Market.
Also, if you have questions about the legal industry, please email us.