Keeping up with the Joneses

 
How do O'Melveny & Myers's profits per partner over the last ten years compare to the five other Am Law 100 firms with historic Los Angeles ties? The results, judging from the chart below, are mixed.

All of the firms in this group have been outgunned in recent years by litigation powerhouse Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan. But O’Melveny lags behind three other firms in this cohort: Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, Latham & Watkins, and Paul Hastings.

Latham, currently with 451 equity partners, and Gibson, with 277 equity partners, more readily embraced merit-based compensation policies and have been outperforming O’Melveny since 1995. But the chasm between O’Melveny (with an equity partnership of 211 last year) and those firms has grown more apparent in the past five years. In that period, Latham’s PPP has gone from $1.9 million to $2 million (peaking in 2007 at $2.3 million), and Gibson’s has gone from $1.8 million to a peak of $2.3 million in 2010. During the past four years, Paul Hastings’s PPP has outperformed O’Melveny’s. In 2006, Paul Hastings had a PPP that was $20,000 less than O’Melveny’s PPP. But since then, Paul Hastings, which currently has 195 equity partners, has bested O’Melveny in that metric. For 2010, Paul Hastings’s $2 million PPP was $465,000 more than O’Melveny’s. Still, O’Melveny’s profits continue to outperform one Los Angeles–based Am Law 100 firm: Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton.  

O’Melveny’s incoming chair, Bradley Butwin, says the comparison with the L.A. firms is misleading, and that O’Melveny looks at its results next to all of The Am Law 100, not just a few firms.