Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The World of Big Law - How the World Changes in 30 Years

My quick look at the top 10 of the soon to be released Am Law 100 took me back to when I first was exposed to the world of "big law firms" sometime in my freshman year at the University of Texas School of Law in the fall of 1972. Actually, naïve as I was, it may have even been the next fall when I interviewed for the first time. I remember the big talk of the law school was an article in a new magazine, Texas Monthly, about the "Big 6". That would have been the six largest law firms in Texas at the time, all Houston based. The six were Baker Botts, Vinson Elkins, and Fulbright Jaworski, all in the 200 lawyer range and Bracewell Patterson, Andrews Kurth, and Butler Binion, all approaching 100 lawyers. I have no clue what the annual revenues were, but I do know that the starting salaries when I graduated in the spring of 1975 was a princely $1,300 a month (the quick math is $15,600 a year.)

Although the Texas firms were significantly smaller than the then biggest New York firms, the difference between them pales in comparison to the difference in the world of "big law" as I first encountered it 30+ years ago and what exists today, when the combined lawyers in all of the Texas Big 6, would be less than all but one of today's top 10. And that's perhaps one of the smallest differences.

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