The Changing Economic Geography of Large U.S. Law Firms

28 Pages Posted: 24 May 2008 Last revised: 1 Dec 2013

See all articles by William D. Henderson

William D. Henderson

Indiana University Maurer School of Law

Arthur S. Alderson

Indiana University Bloomington - Department of Sociology

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: May 16, 2008

Abstract

During the last three decades, the number of lawyers working for large U.S. corporate law firms has increased dramatically. This study draws upon the economic geography literature on producer services and global cities to outline a theoretical framework for the location and growth of large corporate law firms. The framework is then applied to a dataset of large U.S. law firms (Am Law 50, 100, 200) and their principal clientele (Fortune 500). We also use network analysis to observe changes in city centrality over time. Our preliminary findings suggest that over the last twenty years, New York City has supplanted Washington, DC as the more interconnected market, particularly for law firms with international offices in Europe and Asia. Although profitability and revenues per lawyer appear intimately tied to presence in large global cities, particularly New York City and London, the network analysis reveals several firms that are following successful niche strategies. We use this network analysis and block modeling methodology to identify structural elements of the large U.S. market that are based on geographic differences, including factors related to change over time. In turn, we discuss the implications of these findings for large U.S. law firms.

Keywords: economic geography, law firms, lawyers, agglomeration, Fortune 500, Am Law 100, Am Law 200

JEL Classification: O18, L84, R12

Suggested Citation

Henderson, William D. and Alderson, Arthur S., The Changing Economic Geography of Large U.S. Law Firms (May 16, 2008). 3rd Annual Conference on Empirical Legal Studies Papers. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1134223 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1134223

William D. Henderson (Contact Author)

Indiana University Maurer School of Law ( email )

211 S. Indiana Avenue
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States
812-856-1788 (Phone)
812-855-0555 (Fax)

Arthur S. Alderson

Indiana University Bloomington - Department of Sociology ( email )

Ballantine Hall 744
1020 E. Kirkwood Avenue
Bloomington, IN
United States
(812) 855-4127 (Phone)

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