High-stakes cases drive Paul Weiss to record year

Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison has posted record financial results for the 2011 year, with turnover up 3.9 per cent to $780m, average profit per equity partner up 1.5 per cent to $3.1m and revenue per lawyer remaining flat at $1.06m.

The latter metric is particularly notable in that Paul Weiss’ attorney headcount grew last year by 28 to 737 lawyers.  

The firm’s 2011 performance was particularly impressive considering that in 2010 it received a one-time $97m contingency fee payment; excluding the contingency fee payment, firm chair Brad Karp said 2011 revenues “were up 19 per cent (and more than $125m) over 2010.”

Paul Weiss is one of the US leaders in high-stakes litigation, a fact reflected in its record performance last year. Highlight cases included a string of matters for key client Citigroup, notably a successful arbitration against the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (Adia) over its 2007 $7.5bn capital injection into the bank.  

Karp said that the firm was “fortunate to be counsel of choice to some of the world’s leading financial institutions in their most challenging litigations and regulatory matters”, also noting that Paul Weiss “certainly has benefitted from the fact that, over the past few years, [it] has successfully tried – and won – several high profile, multibillion-dollar cases on behalf of financial institutions.”  

Besides the 2011 Adia victory, Paul Weiss also recently prevailed in high-profile, multibillion-dollar global trials on behalf of Citigroup against Terra Firma (EMI) and Parmalat. Karp also noted that the firm in 2011 “handled more multibillion-dollar transactions (more than a dozen) than ever before in its history”.  

Last year Paul Weiss also took the rare step of opening an office in Toronto with the hire of a pair of transactional lawyers from Shearman & Sterling (13 April 2011).

Paul Weiss also added a transactional team from O’Melveny & Myers to strengthen its private equity practice, hedge funds partner Udi Grofman from Schulte Roth & Zabel and a pair of leading patent litigators from Weil Gotshal & Manges.  

According to Karp, this is all part of Paul Weiss’ strategic plan. “As the flight to quality intensifies, we were fortunate to be able to add extraordinary talent to our partnership ranks in 2011,” Karp said. “We continued to invest strategically in our transactional practice; we continued to upgrade our client roster; and we continued to intensify our focus on providing unmatched client service and creative and cost-effective solutions to our clients’ needs, recognising that we (and our clients) are operating in very challenging economic times.”