The Global Lawyer: The Am Law 100 is here | Asia’s Preeminent Negotiator | Russian “Exits”

The Am Law 100 has arrived

The Am Law 100 for 2022 is here, and it’s a familiar look at the top. Five of the top 10 US companies in our gross revenue rankings remained the same year over year. In order, these are Kirkland & Ellis; Latham & Watkins; DLA Piper; Baker McKenzie; and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.

For earnings per partner, again, it’s that name again: Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz topped the list with $8.4 million in PEP. For the Am Law 100 as a whole, the average PEP increased by 19% in 2021.

Also, take a look at Dan Packelis researching exactly what these companies are doing with all those profits they made in 2021. And I encourage you to also take a look at patrick smithon how the Am Law 100 achieved record profits in 2021. He writes how, “by virtually every financial measure imaginable, the Am Law 100 achieved its best collective performance in a generation”. But warns that “not everyone is ready to continue sailing next year”.

Keep an eye out for the Am Law 100 Surpluses. The definitive market guide to the top law firms in the United States.

Are law firms really leaving Russia?

Credit: Nikolay N. Antonov/ Adobe Stock

Passions have reached a deafening level since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and law firms have tried to match that fervor by saying a) they were going to end all relations with Russia and b) that they would “reduce” their operations in Russia. Now we see what was actually meant by “calm down.”

In our article, we give you an overview of what we have so far about what companies are doing. And a clear theme emerges: the Russian offices are being spun off into separate legal entities with which the international firm will maintain a working relationship. It’s a clever solution.

On the one hand, you give up the profit that these offices once made, but on the other hand, you can continue to serve customers with needs in Russia (but not in all cases). What is perhaps most remarkable is that this solution seems to be a slight departure from ‘exit’, ‘shut down’, ‘decrease’ and ‘cessation’. And that begs the question: is this the preliminary stage of what could later become a revival of Russian relations?

In Russia, at least, lawyers are skeptical of international firms and their intentions. Take a look at our interview with two former Big Law partners who set up their own firm in Moscow to take on the giants of the West. Added to this is jack womackon the other hidden (commercial) reason that law firms could have left Russia.

Here are some of our other Russia-Ukraine coverage of the week:

Three companies seek to end representation of Russian banks in US lawsuit

Eversheds responds to ‘misunderstanding’ over plans for Russia

European Commission to extend powers of Justice Agency to help investigate Russian war crimes in Ukraine

Asia’s mercurial negotiator

In corporate law, you have negotiators, you have rainmakers, and then you have Julie Gao. Yes

Julie Gao
Julie Gao

you saw his name in the legal headlines this week, but you don’t know him, allow the reporter from Asia Jessica Seah to explain its importance to the Asian market and why its move from Skadden to TikTok owner ByteDance is a big deal.

Gao, a former head of Skadden’s China practice and a leading figure in America’s Asia listing practice, has advised 27 successful multimillion-dollar U.S. IPOs of Chinese companies. To put that into context, 102 Chinese companies have listed in New York since 2019. And Gao took a quarter of that market share. Its 27 deals hold a total listing value of $18.5 billion, nearly double the $10.1 billion raised by the other 74 issuers combined. (Perhaps an indicator of the growing mistrust of Chinese law firms providing overseas IPO advice — read Jess’s other big story here.)

She is a one woman market. As Jess writes, “no one will dispute that Gao is a rainmaker for Skadden”, and, whichever way you turn it, his departure is a blow to Skadden.