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Where did the ‘20’ go?

In 2006, Missouri Lawyers Weekly embarked on an ambitious project to rank Missouri’s biggest law firms by revenue. Not that we’re superstitious, but after 13 years we’ve decided it’s time for a change to our signature publication.

Whether it was the inaugural MOney 10, the expanded MOney 15 we debuted in 2007 or the now-familiar MOney 20, we’ve always focused on a fixed number of the largest law firms in the state. It was a concise format that allowed us to compare firms across the board and chart their performances year to year, using common metrics for all of them.

But the 20 largest firms in the state have wildly different revenues. Last year, the ratio between the largest firm and the smallest firm on our list was greater than 40:1. Try putting that in a single bar chart.

More importantly, those revenue streams were driven by different business models. Some firms have expanded well beyond Missouri, the Midwest and even the United States. Others have done well by sticking close to home and doubling down on what they do best. A chart can compare those numbers, but it can’t adequately explain the stories behind them.

Finally, focusing on the biggest firms left a lot of highly successful but smaller outfits on the cutting-room floor. Missouri’s major law firms are clearly worthy of coverage, but their tales bear little resemblance to the day-to-day experiences of the average Missouri law firm.

This year we unveil the MOney 2018. For the largest of Missouri’s large firms — those with more than $100 million in gross revenue — we will continue to provide rankings by size and comparisons of year-over-year changes in profit, revenue per lawyer, profit per equity partner and other useful measures of large firms’ financial health, fleshed out with interviews with leaders of those firms. Eight firms made that cutoff for the 2017 fiscal year, though we expect others will join their ranks in the future.

For firms below the $100 million threshold, we won’t give ranks. Instead, we’re presenting a series of short profiles on a range of firms, from those that rival the biggest of Missouri’s enterprises down to some involving just a handful of lawyers. This way, we can show not just how much those firms made but also how and why they made it. It also allows us to focus on smaller firms without having to consider whether they’ve exceeded some other firm’s income.

None of this is to say that we aren’t proud of the last 12 years of work on the MOney 20 and its predecessors. In shifting our focus to some who were never featured in the MOney 20, we’ve also chosen not to include some firms who have made that list in the past. Keep in mind, though: the MOney 2019 is just around the corner.