Alston & bird’s revenue takes flight to tune of 12 per cent

Alston & Bird, the US firm that is considering opening an office in London this year, posted a 12 per cent jump in revenue in 2007 to $518m (£259m).

Average profit per equity partner (PEP) at the Atlanta-based firm just broke through the $1m (£500,000) mark, while revenue per lawyer hit a new high of $710,000 (£355,000).

Managing partner Richard Hays says all of the practices were busy, although the firm’s IP, corporate and litigation groups had seen considerable growth. “It was a very good year,” he adds. “We’re very pleased with the results.”

Hays confirms that the strong financial year was likely to spur on Alston’s expansion both nationally and internationally. “More than half of our revenue last year came from states and jurisdictions where we’re not currently located,” he says. “So we’re looking at the places that are generating that demand and considering how best to commit resources to these areas.”

Hays confirms that, although there was as yet no timetable for a London opening, the firm is “actively exploring” opportunities. It is also looking at an opening on the West Coast of the US to capitalise on its burgeoning alternative energy practice.

“The streets of London are littered with firms that have gone there because the city appeared to have a sparkle, rather than going there in a strategic and thoughtful way,” adds Hays. “We don’t want to be one of those firms. Our strategy is to leverage off our strengths and to build an infrastructure to support those.”

One of Alston’s core strengths currently is in the area of energy and climate change. Earlier this month the firm formed a new climate change-related practice encompassing energy infrastructure, project finance and technology that features some 35 lawyers from around the firm.

At the same time it also brought in a special adviser on energy and carbon management issues from Shell, the company’s former general manager of CO2 Geir Vollsaeter, to work in a non-legal role with the firm’s lawyers.

Another key member of the group is high-profile partner Kipp Coddington, who last April testified before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on issues relating to the commercial deployment of carbon capture and storage technology in the US.

Coddington is also one of the Alston partners, along with global sourcing chair Trevor Nagel, whose client base has resulted in him spending increased time in London, raising the likelihood of the firm opening in the City.

“In London Trevor and Kipp are two of our partners whose practices are increasingly in demand,” Hays confirms.