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Great Worldwide Baker Off

Posted by: Laurence Simons 30/10/12

… And Baker & McKenzie can afford to have a big old Peru party (see Peru to-do). As the latest 2012 Global 100 from the American Lawyer and Legal Week shows, the firm - along with DLA Piper - is one of the top two grossing legal organisations in the world. They totted up $2.313 billion (£1.44 billion, or 'lots') in 2011-12, while DLA grossed $2.247 billion (£1.399 billion).

But the other 98 members of the Top 100 are doing pretty well too - revenues jumped 6.8 per cent to an all-time global high of $81.9 billion (£51.037 billion). Again: lots.

But as the American Lawyer's Chris Johnson notes, analysis of the Global 100 shows a shuffling of the pack. Boosted by a number of the kind of mergers that are so hot this year, new giants - such as Squire Sanders, SNR Denton and CMS Legal - are starting to emerge. And the increase of those looser organisational structures that have facilitated mergers has led to a West Side Story-like dance-off between two types of heavyweight law firms: vereins vs. non-vereins.

"A verein is a holding structure, utilised by DLA, Baker & McKenzie, and the majority of recent tie-ups, that lets participating entities maintain their existing forms without integrating financially," explains Johnson, neatly. Squire, Denton and CMS are all assembled around a verein skeleton, and the Global 100 predicts that, as the market continues to evolve, more organisations are going to break the Top 100 using that very same structure. That means two things: there will be no slowdown when it comes to major organisations merging to boost their total revenue streams in 2013, and newsletter writers are really going to have to learn how to spell 'verein' first time without error.