Debevoise posts flat financials for 2012

Debevoise & Plimpton has posted effectively flat revenues and average profits for 2012. Headcount at the New York-headquarted firm fell slightly, however, with the result that revenue per lawyer (RPL) rose by around 4 per cent to $1.096m.

Total revenue for 2012 was $675.43m while net profit was $296.84m. Average profit per equity partner was also flat at $2.075m.

The firm’s presiding partner Michael Blair said he was “generally pleased” with the firm’s performance given the market conditions.

“The performance improved in the second half of the year so we have entered 2013 with more momentum than we entered 2012,” said Blair.

The firm’s international dispute resolution practice generally performed well but Blair said London had played a key part.

“In litigation the real star was the London office,” said Blair.

Debevoise continued to build its litigation practice in the UK throughout 2012, with the lateral partner hire of Herbert Smith Freehills partner Kevin Lloyd late last year a notable move along with the addition of nine new associates into the London disputes practice since January 2012.

Standout matters include representing Suzuki as the claimant in consolidated ICC London arbitration proceedings against Volkswagen over a multi-billion euro cross shareholding. London partner Sophie Lamb led the team that also included partners Peter Goldsmith QC, Karolos Seeger and John Missing along with more than 20 associates and counsel in London, Hong Kong and New York.

Other major firmwide matters included advising American International Group (AIG) in its agreement with an investor group comprised of New China Trust Co, China Aviation Industrial Fund and P3 Investments, under which AIG will sell up to a 90 per cent stake in International Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC) for $5.28bn. New York partner John Vasily is leading the team which includes partners Geoffrey Burgess (London), Andrew Bab (New York), Jeffrey Cunard (Washington DC), Peter Furci (New York), Jonathan Lewis (New York) and Burt Rosen (New York).

Blair said that the firm’s New York corporate transactional group had performed well, particularly in private equity and the insurance financial institutions group, but that corporate transactional in Europe was down.

“Europe has been in a recession state for a couple of years and we just saw a continuation of that,” added Blair.

Headcount in London was broadly flat while New York headcount was down by about 4 per cent.

Along with the hire of Lloyd, who joins Debevoise later this year, the firm also hired Robert Kaplan in Washington from the SEC’s enforcement division.

Earlier this year it lost high-profile litigator Mary-Jo White, who is leaving to join the SEC.

Total fee-earners at Debevoise on an FTE basis as of 1 January 2013 stood at 615, 92 of whom were in London. Total lawyers was 616. The London office total number of lawyers stood at 75, 19 of whom were partners.