Law is a big service-based business. Business, finance, taxation, litigation, corporate affairs, conflicts, patents, copyrights, antitrust, property, labor, arbitration, as well as administration, political, and social matters all require law expertise. While there are other criteria to rank law firms—such as revenue per partner or lawyer, the number of lawyers, or year-over-year percent growth—annual revenue remains the most accurate, consistent, and easy to follow.
Here’s a list of the top ten law firms in the world. All figures are based on the 2023 Global 200, a rank made by Law.com.
- Revenues for the top three firms—Kirkland & Ellis, Latham & Watkins, and DLA Piper—each exceeded $3 billion for the 2020 fiscal year.
- Kirkland & Ellis came out on top with $6.51 billion in revenue while Gibson Dunn rounded out the list at number ten with $2.73 billion.
- Eight of the firms are headquartered in the U.S., with only one of them—Clifford Chance—having its headquarters overseas. Dentons has no centralized headquarters, but has the most lawyers and offices located in China.
1. Kirkland & Ellis LLP
Kirkland & Ellis LLP serves a niche set of corporate clients across the corporate, taxation, litigation, intellectual property, and restructuring fields. With more than 3,400 people on board, the U.S.-based firm’s revenues stood at $6.51 billion in 2022, putting it at the top of the list.
The firm has a number of high-profile clients, including Boeing, Delta Airlines, General Motors, and Dow Chemical.
Kirkland & Ellis was founded in 1909 in Chicago.
2. Latham & Watkins LLP
Headquartered in Los Angeles with offices in 14 additional countries and more than 3,600 lawyers on board, Latham & Watkins ranks second in terms of annual revenues, with a reported $5.32 billion.
The firm has a wide range of services from activism, to entertainment and media, to real estate, and white-collar defense.
3. DLA Piper
One of the biggest global law firms with lawyers in more than 40 countries, DLA Piper came into existence after a mega-merger of multiple international law firms in 2005.
Headquartered in London and Chicago, this firm came in third with annual revenues of $3.69 billion. It employs more than 4,200 lawyers throughout its offices, with practice areas in sectors such as education, government contracting, insurance, and technology.
DLA Piper agreed to represent Paul Ceglia in 2010 in a lawsuit against Mark Zuckerberg, in which he claimed 84% ownership of Meta.
4. Baker McKenzie
Founded in 1949 and headquartered in Chicago, Baker McKenzie employs more than 6,500 lawyers who work in offices in 70 different countries.
Its reported revenues were $3.30 billion, making it the fourth-highest on the list.
Dentons is the product of a flurry of mergers in the last half decade—the most recent being a double-merger in 2020 with Cohen & Grigsby and Bingham Greenebaum Doll.
Dentons ranked number fifth on the list, according to Law.com. The firm boasts more than 12,000 people working in more than 80 countries.
6. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP
Skadden—as the firm is commonly known—was founded in 1948. With headquarters in New York, Skadden has 22 offices across the globe with an employee roster of more than 1,600 lawyers, and more than 50 practice areas.
Its reported annual revenues were $3.02 billion. The firm advises businesses, financial institutions, and government agencies worldwide.
7. Sidley Austin
Founded in 1866, Sidley—as it’s more commonly known—is headquartered in Chicago. In 2020, the firm reported revenues of $2.92 billion and over 1,800 lawyers in more than 23 offices around the world.
The firm focuses on corporate finance, employment, regulatory and government affairs, and tax law.
8. White & Case
Founded in 1901 and headquartered in Tampa, White & Case employs more than 2,600 lawyers across 47 additional locations worldwide. Its reported revenues in 2020 were $2.83 billion, making it the eighth-highest on the list.
9. Morgan, Lewis & Bockius
Morgan Lewis employs 2,200 lawyers and was founded in 1873. The firm reported $2.75 billion in revenue—putting it in ninth place. The firm is headquartered in Philadelphia, with a total of 33 offices around the world.
10. Gibson Dunn
Founded in 1872r, Gibson Dunn is headquartered in Los Angeles and has offices in 20 other countries. Its roster includes approximately 1,800 lawyers.
According to the company’s website, primary sectors include financial institutions, healthcare, private equity, and transport. Its reported revenues were $2.73 billion.
What Is the Largest Law Firm in the World?
The largest law firm in the world is Kirkland & Ellis LLP, according to Law.com’s global ranking of the top 200 firms in the world. The firm has more than 3,400 lawyers on its roster and earned over $6.51 billion in gross revenue in 2022.
What Is the Largest Law Firm in the United States?
Baker McKenzie came in as the top law firm in the United States, according to Law.com. With more than 4,800 attorneys working for the firm, it earned $3.30 billion in revenue in 2022. Baker McKenzie is headquartered in Chicago and has more than 70 offices around the world. Its practice areas include antitrust, capital markets, dispute resolution, private equity, and taxation.
How Much Do the Top Lawyers Earn?
Lawyer salaries vary based on where they practice, their practice areas, the experience they have, and the law firm for which they work. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for a lawyer in 2022 was $135,740 per year. The highest 10% in the field, though, earned more than $239,200.
The Bottom Line
Law firms can have multiple practice areas, and for the world’s top firms, expertise is required at both the local and global levels. The law firms listed above are successfully running their business across multiple practice areas, and have been effective in managing billion-dollar revenues consistently.