This chart tells two stories:

  • The Magic Circle’s revenue has not again been as high as it was in 2008, and the New York firms’ revenue has not again been as low as it was in that year.
  • The London/NY ratio in 2008 was about 1.67:1 and by 2013 was 1.26:1


Here’s a very similar story:

  • The Magic Circle’s all-time high headcount was 2008/2009 at around 9,600 lawyers and New York’s all-time low headcount was 2008.
  • London went from about twice the size of New York to about 1-1/2 times as large.


Great discipline exerted all around. Both these lines are almost horizontal, with strongly constrained growth on the entire half decade. However else they may differ, these firms have tightened the screws at the top.


The inevitable sequel to the previous chart, answering the question, “How does total lawyer headcount compare to equity partner headcount?” Not to be Euclidean about it, but just under 20% appears to be the Golden Mean upon which the transatlatnic elite are converging.

Should other firms take heed? Well, at least they should take note.

Now we cross over from the land of tonnage and throw-weight into the realm of judgment and implications.

Related Articles

Email Delivery

Get Our Latest Articles Delivered to your inbox +

Sign-up for email

Be the first to learn of Adam Smith, Esq. invitation-only events, surveys, and reports.

Get Our Latest Articles Delivered to Your Inbox

Like having coffee with Adam Smith, Esq. in the morning (coffee not included).

Oops, we need this information
Oops, we need this information
Oops, we need this information

Thanks and a hearty virtual handshake from the team at Adam Smith, Esq.; we’re glad you opted to hear from us.

What you can expect from us:

  • an email whenever we publish a new article;
  • respect and affection for our loyal readers. This means we’ll exercise the strictest discretion with your contact info; we will never release it outside our firm under any circumstances, not for love and not for money. And we ourselves will email you about a new article and only about a new article.

Welcome onboard! If you like what you read, tell your friends, and if you don’t, tell us.

PS: You know where to find us so we invite you to make this a two-way conversation; if you have an idea or suggestion for something you’d like us to discuss, drop it in our inbox. No promises that we’ll write about it, but we will faithfully promise to read your thoughts carefully.