The Lawyer revenue counter for US firms
|Rank||Firm||Revenue ($m)||Profit per equity partner ($m)|
|2||Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom||2,020||2.28|
|3||Latham & Watkins||2,005||2.27|
|4||Baker & McKenzie||1,830||1.06|
|6||White & Case||1,370||1.67|
|10||Weil Gotshal & Manges||1,180||2.11|
|11||Sullivan & Cromwell||1,100||3.13|
|12||Dewey & LeBoeuf||1,000||1.57|
|14||McDermott Will & Emery||978||1.52|
|16||O’Melveny & Myers||934||1.64|
|17||Shearman & Sterling||921||1.85|
|18||Gibson Dunn & Crutcher||908||1.90|
|19||Morrison & Foerster||894||1.27|
|24||Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe||772||1.66|
|25||Debevoise & Plimpton||710||2.29|
|26||Winston & Strawn||697||1.28|
|29||Willkie Farr & Gallagher||600||2.23|
|35||Alston & Bird||518||1.00|
Fried Frank boosts revenue by 14 per cent
Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson has announced its financial results for the 2007-08 year.
Figures for Fried Frank’s fiscal year, which unusually for a US firm closes at the end of February, show a 14 per cent increase in gross revenue to $537.4m (£268.6m) and a 5 per cent rise in average profit per equity partner (PEP), to $1.6m (£800,000).
Net profit grew 10.3 per cent to $227.3m (£113.6m) while the number of lawyers (on a full time equivalent basis) grew 12.5 per cent to 602.
Fried Frank’s co-managing partner Justin Spendlove said the relatively small growth in PEP was primarily a result of the firm’s heavy investment overseas, particularly in its new Hong Kong and Shanghai offices it launched late in 2006.
“Activity in our core business remained at a high pace throughout the year but by any standards we made a substantial investment in Hong Kong and Shanghai,” said Spendlove. “To increase both our revenue and profits, as we have in these circumstances is, we believe, a very strong performance.”
In September 2006, Fried Frank raided the China practice of Simmons & Simmons to launch its first operations in the region. Three months later the firm launched a second raid on Simmons to launch its office in Hong Kong.
The firm now has 46 lawyers across the two offices, 40 in Hong Kong and around half a dozen in Shanghai.
After revealing a 20 per cent hike in revenues from $29m to $35m for its London office, Orrick is sticking to its knitting in the City. That means aggressive growth plans, particularly in finance, one area where you might expect to see more restrained growth.
While London managing partner Martin Bartlam admits no-one really knows how 2008 will shape up in the face of market volatility, he certainly seems positive about the future. Bartlam is vowing to grow the finance team from 20 fee earners to 30 during the next year.
And that’s not it. The west coast firm is firmly focused on London with hopes to build up to at least 60 and possibly as many as 100 during the next five years.
Orrick’s healthy 16 per cent global revenue growth to $772m was not enough to make it leapfrog any of the firms in The Lawyer’s US revenue counter but London’s impressive 20 per cent has outperformed its global figure.
With promising performance in the capital it’s easy to see why Bartlam is resolute to stick to the firm’s original plan of bolstering the city finance group.
Debevoise swaps M&A for MBIA
Debevoise & Plimpton yesterday (Wednesday, 5 March) became the firm that put all the others in the States in the shade.
It’s tempting to call the firm’s outstanding financial results astonishing (see story). But then, in the context of last year’s white hot deals market, or at least the first half of it, a transactionally driven practice like Debevoise really should be making hay.
Kudos to it for doing so. Now the question is, what’s next?
According to insiders at Debevoise, activity levels at the firm in January and February remain high, although the mix has changed. More fund formation and capital raising (with the firm’s work for MBIA on its cash injection a recent standout), less M&A.
For Debevoise at least, that 31.5 per cent rise in net profit to $313.7m (£156.8m) will take some of the sting out of what might prove be an ugly year.
Sullivan’s record year
Sullivan & Cromwell has broken through the $1bn (£500m) revenue barrier for the first time, topping $3m (£1.51m) average profit per equity partner (PEP) in the process.
Internal sources have estimated that revenue will rise by approximately 12 per cent to $1.01bn (£508m) and PEP will rise by 11 per cent to $3.13m (£1.57m). While these figures are initial estimates, it is clear that Sullivan has achieved the iconic $1bn revenue and $3m PEP benchmarks.
Sullivan’s success is the latest in a groundbreaking year for US firms. It is a year that has been documented in detail on www.thelawyer.com’s Rev Counter.
Considering Sullivan’s impressive deal portfolio for 2007, these strong results are hardly surprising. UK partner Chris White led for the firm, advising on the lucrative $80bn (£40.23bn) ABN Amro-Barclays merger along with Clifford Chance. Despite shaky market conditions – notably the onset of the credit crunch later in the year – the firm maintained its deal flow, winning highly sought-after instructions, such as the role advising private equity house Olivant on its bid for beleaguered UK mortgage lender Northern Rock during the summer.
Sullivan’s new London managing partner Vanessa Blackmore and corporate star Tim Emmerson led the firm on the ultimately unsuccessful bid.
How Latham broke two-billion
Sitting comfortably near the top of the revenue table, Latham & Watkins and Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom both became the first US firms to post revenues of $2bn (£1.01bn), reporting increases of 23 per cent and 9 per cent respectively.
Latham’s global PEP was up by 22 per cent to $2.27m (£1.14m) in 2007 from $1.85m (£930,398) in 2006.
Considering the boom period of the first six months of the year, it is hardly surprising that most US firms reported excellent growth.
Mark Hanrahan, global banking chairman at Latham concurs, saying: “Pretty much every firm has had a good year. This was inevitable considering how buoyant the market was at the beginning of 2007. “2008 will be a tougher year simply because fewer mandates are out there while the markets remain uncertain.”
Latham’s strong positioning in the high-yield and debt market certainly paid off in the 2007 financial year. Latham New York finance partner Marc Jaffe advised longstanding client Goldman Sachs as the underwriter of the Dollar General Corporation’s $1.17bn (£588.41m) debt offering in June last year.
Latham also advised Barclays on its $4.8bn (£2.41bn) revolver bridge facility for Thomson Corporation to finance the acquisition of Reuters Group in 2007.
“Latham’s been successful in securing and maintaining financial institution clients,” says Hanrahan. “High-yield has been extremely important to Latham for a long time and will continue to be a core strength for all of our offices.”
While Hanrahan and many of his peers admit that this year’s figures will give a clearer picture of success and failure for global firms, some casualties have undoubtedly already begun to surface.
Dewey & Leboeuf chairman, Steve Davis called 2007 an “extraordinary” year for the firm. While it’s arguably fair to describe the merger of Dewey and Leboeuf as extraordinary, it’s pushing it a bit to say the same about its first-ever set of financial results. See story.
Global revenue was up by just over 9 per cent to $1bn (GBP500m). Average profit per equity partner rose by roughly 10 per cent, to $1.57m (GBP785,000). It’s not too bad, but set against other firms’ figures, at the low end of average.
Then again, Dewey & LeBoeuf’s year was anything but average. First, there was that merger. Then Davis took control and started to make his presence felt. He binned the London management team and took responsibility for both sides of the Atlantic.
Then he instituted an exceedingly complex structure where just about everybody had a management role of some sort.
The firm’s first big external move was a two-partner raid on Akin Gump to launch in Dubai. Davis says there will be more changes to come in 2008 as he seeks to fully integrate the two legacy firms.
But given the current economic conditions, Davis has promised to slow down with the lateral hires. Given the firm’s massive expansion during the last two years, that is probably a wise move. But Davis is more than capable of springing a few more surprises during this crucial integration.
Is Shearman & Sterling’s 9.36 per cent revenue hike a return to form? Well, it’s not bad, considering the last six months of 2007 were a struggle for most global firms.
This time last year, things were looking pretty gloomy for Shearman. The 1 per cent revenue increase at the end of 2006, during the height of the boom period, didn’t bode well.
But with its $921m (£460m) global revenue for 2007 it appears Shearman is fighting back. Critically, profit per equity partner (PEP) was up more than 11 per cent. (See story) Could Shearman be on the mend?
London managing partner, Kenneth MacRitchie certainly thinks so, but he probably would, wouldn’t he? MacRitchie described 2007 as “a rewarding year”.
While London’s 15 per cent revenue growth took its City turnover to $132.6m (£66.2m) and the global figures look healthier than last year, one year of good results doesn’t get the firm out of the woods just yet.
In New York Shearman is still seen as being plagued by its former demons, primarily a disconnected global network.
As one former partner said: “I don’t think Shearman is back on track. Yes, the results are better than last year but the offices are still not good at promoting a referral network between offices. This is essential for a global firm.”
Still a work in progress, then.
Last week, The Lawyer launched its twice-weekly New York news bulletin. Today another innovation; a rolling revenue counter showing US firms’ results as they happen.
The number one surprise is that DLA Piper has rocketed to, er, number one. Last year the firm was acknowledged as the largest in the world by number of lawyers. Now it’s made it to the top of the list on revenue, jumping from 11th place to first with a global turnover of $2.1bn (£1.04bn).
That puts DLA Piper just above global giants Skadden and Latham & Watkins. Except there’s one big difference between these three: DLA Piper remains a divided firm financially.
The firm’s mega jump is primarily down to the combination of the firm’s two separate trading parts, the US and the rest of the world.
The question is, is DLA’s strategy of two separate revenue pools the key to its success or evidence of a segregated firm?
If you want to hear it from the horse’s mouth then tune in to the February edition of The Lawyer podcast, on which DLA Piper’s UK managing partner, Nigel Knowles, argues why he thinks it’s the former.
According to Big Nige’ (as he’s affectionately known), the structure doesn’t bother DLA Piper one jot. Neither, Knowles claims, has it affected the firm’s ability to share global costs, achieve global bonuses and make global investments.
“The results of the firm, particularly in relation to clients and attracting the type of work we are doing and the way the firm has developed, isn’t suggesting there’s a flaw whatsoever,” Knowles adds.
Tune in to the podcast to hear more.