At a practice management conference earlier this year, one presenter treated attendees to a 17-year-old flashback - a nostalgic chart showing Accounting Today's 1993 ranking of the top 60 tax and accounting firms. (Yes, back then we only ranked 60 firms.)

Nevertheless, even that truncated roster demonstrated just how much the landscape and pecking order of CPA firms has been shuffled and reshuffled as a result of mergers, acquisitions or, in the sad case of one major firm, closure.

The firm revenues of that not-so-long-ago era seem diminutive compared to the numbers generated by those in the 2010 ranking, the 23rd year that our publication has brought our readers this exhaustive project. Back then, firms that currently reside just below the Big Four in revenues were, on average, one-fifth their present size, a testament to solid leadership and entrepreneurial spirit.

But that was then and this is now.

The past 18 months have tested many firms like never before, as evidenced by the fact that the 2010 Top 100 saw a 2.85 percent drop in aggregate revenues - the first-ever decline since we began compiling a Top Firms study.

As a result of last year's merger of Practical Accountant into Accounting Today, we have continued that publication's well-respected survey of top reg- ional firms, and this year have augmented our Top 100 rankings with the Regional Leaders study.

And we're happy to report that the results were brighter among those firms, with nine of 10 regions posting revenue gains from the prior year.

As always, no T100 study would be complete without our traditional tutorial on the guidelines:

* Revenue, unless otherwise noted, is net.

* Also, unless noted, revenues are for the U.S. only.

* The "Total employees" category is comprised of partners, professionals and other personnel.

* In a case where two firms report equal revenue, the firm with the higher percentage of revenue increase will receive the higher ranking.

As usual, this all-hands-on-deck project requires a superb and dedicated staff to help put it out the door - and we have just that, led by managing editor Dan Hood, whom I'm now convinced headed military logistics for the Roman Empire in a former life, senior editor Roger Russell, associate editor Liz Gold, and Mike Cohn, editor of our online sibling

So, with that, we present the 2010 edition of the Top 100 Tax and Accounting Firms, accompanied by the rankings of Regional Leaders.


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