Debevoise 2011 results show increase in turnover to $675.5m

Debevoise & Plimpton has posted a 2.8 per cent increase in revenue for 2011, taking total fee income to $675.5m.

Average profit per equity partner was static at $2.08m but revenue per lawyer rose significantly, by 7.2 per cent, to $1.05m.

While capital markets was sluggish, several stand-out M&A deals helped Debevoise post positive results, in particular a string of major matters for Russian clients in the European part of the business.

London managing partner James Scoville said one of the themes of the year had been the “tremendous number of major Russian deals” on which Debevoise advised.

They included Russian potash producer Uralkali’s $8.1bn merger with rival Silvinit, with corporate partner Alan Kartashkin in the firm’s 30-lawyer Moscow office leading alongside Scoville.

Debevoise also represented KazakhGold in its $10bn combination with Polyus Gold, and RTS in its $5bn merger with Micex.

Scoville also highlighted the firm’s insurance transactional practice in London, which handled a number of matters for Omega Insurance, and litigation and arbitration as busy areas during 2011.

“We see London as a critical part of our international platform and will continue to develop and invest in the office,” said Scoville.

Headcount in London, however, remained effectively static last year while in Paris the firm lost two senior lawyers, including local co-managing partner Patrick Laporte, to Latham & Watkins (16 January 2012).

Unlike several rival US firms Debevoise has a relatively lean office network altough it did make moves to strengthen its position internationally, particularly in Asia.

One of the firm’s best-known litigators, Lord Peter Goldsmith QC, who last year won a multijurisdictional battle for Norilsk Nickel, is now spending significantly more time in Hong Kong, having been appointed to the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (1 November 2011).

Last year Debevoise appointed corporate chair Michael Blair as its presiding partner, succeeding Martin Frederic ‘Rick’ Evans, who has held the post since 1998 (29 June 2011).