“How many lawyers do you have?” Thatâ€™s the question we ask one another and get asked by others everyday. The higher the number, the more impressed the questioner seems to be.
Having lots of lawyers is associated with status by our peers and by some lay people.
But why? Who cares how many lawyers you have?
Do you think the partners at Wachtell care how many lawyers they have?
They have the highest profit per partner of any firm on the Am Law 100 (the American Lawyer list of the top 100 firms). Their 2008 profits per partner were $4,010,000. The next firm on the list is $700,000 per partner behind Wachtell.
Profits? Who cares?
Isnâ€™t the real question “How many lawyers do they have?”
Iâ€™m guessing the Wachtell partners arenâ€™t embarrassed when they have to tell folks that theyâ€™re number 100, out of 100, on the Am Law 100 list for total number of lawyers. Yep, theyâ€™re dead last.
If youâ€™re a solo with “profits per partner” of more than $4,000,000 I think you should be a pretty happy solo.
If you have 50 lawyers and have “profits per partner” of $100,000, you might want to look at career alternatives.
I suppose it wouldnâ€™t be comfortable to start asking one another about our profits. So we likely wonâ€™t do that.
Maybe instead of asking how many lawyers we have in our firm we can just talk about the weather.