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Law is a major service-based business. Corporate affairs, finance, business, litigation, taxation, patents, conflicts, antitrust, copyrights, labor, property, arbitration, in addition to social, political and administrative matters, all require legal expertise (enforcement or advisory). In this article, we will provide a brief overview of the leading law firms. The firms detailed are based on recent revenue figures that were available at the time that this article was written. Although other criteria can be used for ranking law firms (such as year-over-year percent growth, number of lawyers or revenue per lawyer/partner), annual revenue is still the most easy to follow, consistent and accurate method.

Baker & McKenzie: Headquartered in Chicago and founded in 1949, 4,200 lawyers are employed by Baker & McKenzie. The firm has 77 offices in 47 different countries. In terms of its reported revenues, the firm surpassed DLA Piper recently, which is its nearest competitor, to top the list with revenues of $2.54 billion (June 2014).

DLA Piper, employs over 4,200 lawyers and is among the largest global law firms. DLA Piper was formed in 2005 following a mega-merger of several international law firms. Headquartered in Chicago and London, the firm competes for the top spot. In 2013 the firm’s annual revenue was $2.48 billion.

Latham & Watkins LLP: Employing over 2,000 lawyers with offices in 14 different countries and headquartered in Los Angeles, Latham & Watkins is ranked third in annual revenues. For 2013, the firm reported revenues of $2.226 billion.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP: Headquartered in New York and found in 1948, Skadden employs over 1,600 lawyers and has 23 offices all over the world. In 2013 the firm had $2.21 billion in reported annual revenues.

Clifford Chance LLP: Clifford Chance was founded through a merger in 1987. It has offices in 26 different countries and is headquartered in London. Over 3,200 lawyers are employed by the firm. Its reported annual revenues for 2013-14 were £1.359 billion (approximately $2.12 billion). According to the firm’s website, its main client groups include not-for-profit organizations, trade bodies, regulators, governments, and corporations from all industrial and commercial sectors.