The Last Days of the Philadelphia Lawyer: The Firms

Legal-world insiders give their views on the 10 largest Philly-based firms

Firm: Morgan Lewis & Bockius
2007 Am Law rank: 12
Gross revenue: $922m
Profits per partner: $1.24m
Lawyers: 1,430
Offices: 22
Stars: Mark Dichter (labor), Steve Goodman (corporate)
Head of firm: Francis Milone

“Morgan and Dechert aren’t really Philadelphia firms these days — they’re New York firms that just happen to have offices here.”… “Morgan is definitely best positioned for the long term. They and Dechert have separated themselves from the field in Philadelphia, but Morgan has more diversity in practice areas than Dechert does. They’re not as enamored of chasing every last possible dollar, which means they can withstand a downturn better than Dechert.”

Firm: Dechert
2007 Am Law rank: 24
Gross revenue: $729m
Profits per partner: $1.985m
Lawyers: 1,045
Offices: 17
Stars: Bob Heim (litigation), Joe Tate (litigation)
Head of firm: Barton Winokur

“One of the best-managed firms around — I have great admiration for Bart Winokur. Their strength is and has been in the mergers and acquisitions area.”… “Clearly the most profitable firm in town, but they’ve achieved that by focusing on fewer practice groups. Real estate finance is a key area for them — they may be feeling a downturn because of that.”

Firm: Duane Morris
2007 Am Law rank: 70
Gross revenue: $336.5m
Profits per partner: $728,000
Lawyers: 650
Offices: 22
Stars: John Horstmann (finance), Kathleen Shay (corporate)
Head of firm: John Soroko

“To me, they’re somewhat of an enigma. They’ve had great growth, but I don’t understand exactly what their strategy is other than just to grow.”… “They have some challenges, I think. They have a new chairman [John Soroko] who’s following a legend in Shelly Bonovitz — that’s a challenge.”

Firm: Blank Rome
2007 Am Law rank: 81
Gross revenue: $283.7m
Profits per partner: $581,000
Lawyers: 510
Offices: 9
Stars: Jim Smith (litigation), Larry Flick (finance)
Head of firm: David Girard-diCarlo

“Good firm, but the next group down from Morgan and Dechert — they’re clearly trying to get to that level.” … “The jury is still out on them. Carl Buchholz [managing partner] is a young, inexperienced kind of guy.” …“They’ve done a terrific job in acquisition. Their New York acquisition was the biggest factor in their success to date.”

Firm: Pepper Hamilton
2007 Am Law rank: 95
Gross revenue: $259m
Profits per partner: $647,000
Lawyers: 512
Offices: 11
Stars: Barry Abelson (corporate), Barbara Mather (litigation)
Head of firm: Robert Heideck

“They’re somewhat of a hot firm right now. They’ve made a lot of good moves in two areas: litigation, predominantly product liability, and their general corporate practice. My impression is they’re well-managed.”… “I think there are a fair number of questions. So much of their practice is tied to the product liability area, particularly pharmaceuticals — they do a lot of stuff for Eli Lilly. I think they have too much concentrated in one area.”

Firm: Drinker Biddle & Reath
2007 Am Law rank: 99
Gross revenue: $246m
Profits per partner: $585,000
Lawyers: 660
Offices: 12
Stars: Andrew Kassner (bankruptcy), Wilson Brown III (litigation)
Head of firm: Alfred W. Putnam Jr.

“They’ve done a terrific job of rolling up some very good acquisitions.”… “Their challenge is to achieve success outside the East and Midwest, to truly become a national firm.”…. “I think there’s going to be some significant fallout … there are some practice areas where they just can’t justify the dollars per hour they’re going to need.”

Firm: Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll
2007 Am Law rank: 100
Gross revenue: $243m
Profits per partner: $515,000
Lawyers: 536
Offices: 11
Stars: Justin Klein (corporate), Michael Sklaroff (real estate)
Head of firm: Arthur Makadon

“They haven’t grown in the usual way, but they’ve been successful at it. They’ve hopscotched all over the country — Denver, Salt Lake City, Phoenix. Can they unify those offices? The other question is, who follows Arthur Makadon? He’s not stepping down anytime soon, but he’s another guy who’s a legend.” … “I’m not particularly crazy about their management — and I think a lot of people who work at the firm are not particularly crazy about their management.”

Firm: Cozen O’Connor
2007 Am Law rank: 109
Gross revenue: $224.5m
Profits per partner: $520,000
Lawyers: 500
Offices: 21
Stars: Steve Cozen (litigation), Mark Foley (labor/employment)
Head of firm: Thomas A. Decker

“Has done a good job of having a truly national footprint. They need to continue to go outside of the insurance area, and to make those other offices general-practice areas.” … “Steve Cozen is still there, but Pat O’Connor is pretty much out the door. Tad Decker is well-respected, but I don’t think anyone thinks he’s there for the long haul.”

Firm: WolfBlock
2007 Am Law rank: 145
Gross revenue: $157m
Profits per partner: $485,000
Lawyers: 314
Offices: 8
Stars: Tom Gallagher (tax), Herman Fala (real estate)
Head of firm: Mark Alderman

“They have two strong practice areas — real estate, and trusts and estates. The rest of the firm is okay, but they’re still living in yesteryear. Unless they totally revamp and figure out a way to grow, I don’t see them progressing.”… “Mark Alderman has come out and said they’re interested in merging. I think that’s raised a fair number of questions.”

Firm: Fox Rothschild
2007 Am Law rank: 148
Gross revenue: $154m
Profits per partner: $515,000
Lawyers: 431
Offices: 14
Stars: Abraham Reich (litigation), Mark Silow (tax/employee benefits)
Head of firm: Phillip Griffin and Abraham Reich

“With the exception of a half-dozen people at the top, they’re weak throughout.”… “I think they’re going to face some challenges in the next five years. They haven’t had a shakeout yet of partners who don’t bring in a lot of business.”