It takes little discernment to conclude that "Adam Smith,
Esq." could be more appropriately subtitled "…an inquiry into the economics
of [Big] law firms."*  Not only would this
conclusion be correct, but since I know for a fact that you, dear readers,
are an exceptionally discerning lot, I am telling you nothing you don’t

Still, the question arises as to how much of the total landscape of
law-firm-land I am consciously overlooking.  Today we have an answer.

According to the US
, in 2003 (most recent statistics available),
the total revenue for "taxable" (i.e., not non-profit) law firms was
$178.95-billion.   Meanwhile, over at the Bureau
of Labor Statistics
(the government is not known for its embrace
of one-stop-shopping), we learn that about 521,000 lawyers were employed
in for-profit law firms (i.e., not government or in-house corporate).**

And thanks to The
American Lawyer,
know that the total revenue of the AmLaw 100 for 2004 was $46.04-billion
and that those firms employed a total of 68,186 lawyers.   Now
you can see this coming, right?

AmLaw 100 vs. All Law Firms
AmLaw 100
Non-AmLaw 100 Law Firms
% of lawyers (headcount)
% of total (private) legal industry revenue
Average revenue/lawyer/year

You can thank Craig
for setting me loose on this trail.

What do I conclude?  First, that the focus of this blog is not
about to change.  Second, that it would be interesting to see an
historic time-series of this data.  My educated hunch?  The
AmLaw 100’s share of total legal-industry revenue is growing, as is their
share of lawyer headcount:  But revenue is growing at a faster rate.

*The phrase "an inquiry into" is lifted from the full title of Adam
Smith’s 1776 masterpiece, which is An Inquiry Into the Nature and
Causes of The
Wealth of Nations

**The 521,000 figure does not appear directly on the page I cite, but
I derived it from their total full-time lawyer headcount (695,000) combined
with their observation that "3 out of 4" lawyers are work in law firms
of all sizes (including solo practitioners).

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