by the editors of California Lawyer
Although the economy crept toward recovery this past year, the downturn's lingering force continued to take a toll on California's legal-services industry. Nearly 65 percent of the law firms on our 2010 list of the state's largest had fewer attorneys (as of June 15) than in 2009, continuing a trend from last year when 60 percent of them downsized from the previous year. (Because of a three-way tie for 49th place, 51 firms made the list this year.)
Still, the four largest firms from last year remain the largest this year-in the same order. In fact, Latham & Watkins has been at the head of the list since 2006, despite having 68 fewer attorneys than last year. Morrison & Foerster and Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith are still No. 2 and No. 3, respectively. O'Melveny & Myers lost 15 lawyers but holds on to its No. 4 perch.
Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton added 15 lawyers and jumped to No. 5 from last year's No. 7, and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe dropped to No. 8 from last year's No. 6. Greenberg Traurig grew the most, leaping six spots to No. 28 after gaining 20 attorneys. This year four previously unranked firms joined the California 50: Winston & Strawn, Nixon Peabody, K&L Gates, and Laughlin, Falbo, Levy & Moresi. Dropping off the list altogether were three firms: Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd (formerly Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins-No. 45 last year), Baker & McKenzie (No. 49), and Nossaman (No. 50).
Our survey also provides data on the number of minority and women associates in the California 50, and on how they fared compared with associates overall. In many firms, we found (see page 30) that minority and women associates were not disproportionately affected by the downsizings. To view the 2010 California 50 and our Associate Snapshot as a PDF