Disclosure of revenue profiles by reports published in 2017

As with a previous post, to study revenue profiles I zeroed in on a set of 14 survey-research reports published by law firms in 2017. 1 That post considers how fully and consistently the firms shared profile information on their participants’ industries. Here the focus turns to how that group of reports disclosed aggregated categories of their participants’ annual revenue.

To start with discouraging news, eight reports tell readers absolutely nothing about the revenue of their respondent population (one chose, oddly, to give three market cap categories). This tell-nothing decision by eight law firms is regrettable because readers of their reports are severely handicapped in judging how credible the report is and, more specifically, how well its findings apply to the reader’s organization. The omission of this profile (demographic) data also suggests that the firms did not analyze their findings by revenue categories.

Turning to the remaining six reports, four give only a single revenue indicator, such as “almost half the respondents reported revenue of greater than $1 billion.” In the plot below, those reports show only two bars: one for the amount of revenue stated and up and one slightly less than the amount stated and down. Thus, based on the single indicator, I created a binary categorization of revenue.The reports of Norton Fulbright and Hogan Lovells exemplify splendidly what survey reports should do. They broke their respondents into three or six revenue categories, respectively. As royalty, they deserve to have purple bars, compared to the yellow bars of the other firms. In the interests of full disclosure, I should note that I slightly modified some of the range data as given so that the the plot has more uniformity.

It is clear that the revenue categories applied by the firms that used categories cover an extremely wide range, from less than $99 million to more than $20 billion. Moreover, each firm conjured up its own category boundaries, with almost no standardization across the reports (except what I imposed). Three reports used “more than $ billion”, but that was the only shared category. As with demographic reporting on industries, everyone in the legal profession would gain if there were more disclosure of revenue demographics and more consistent use of similar bands.


  1. The post explains how the reports were chosen and which firms were represented in the data set.

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