Law firms operating in multiple countries often have complex structures involving multiple partnerships, particularly in jurisdictions such as Hong Kong and Japan which restrict partnerships between local and foreign lawyers. One structure largely unique to large multinational law firms is the Swiss Verein, pioneered by Baker & McKenzie in 2004, in which multiple national or regional partnerships form an association in which they share branding, administrative functions and various operating costs, but maintain separate revenue pools and often separate partner compensation structures. Other multinational law firms operate as single worldwide partnerships, such as British or American limited liability partnerships, in which partners also participate in local operating entities in various countries as required by local regulations.
Three financial statistics are typically used to measure and rank law firms’ performance:
Profits per partner (PPP): Net operating income divided by number of equity partners. High PPP is often correlated with prestige of a firm and its attractiveness to potential equity partners. However, the indicator is prone to manipulation by re-classifying less profitable partners as non-equity partners.
Revenue per lawyer (RPL): Gross revenue divided by number of lawyers. This statistic shows the revenue-generating ability of the firm’s lawyers in general, but does not factor in the firm’s expenses such as associate compensation and office overhead.
Average compensation of partners (ACP): Total amount paid to equity and nonequity partners (i.e., net operating income plus nonequity partner compensation) divided by the total number of equity and nonequity partners. This results in a more inclusive statistic than PPP, but remains prone to manipulation by changing expense policies and re-classifying less profitable partners as associates.