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Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan’s London office revenue grew by 30 per cent last year, the firm’s provisional financial results have revealed.
The US litigation firm’s UK revenue growth was powered by a number of major matters last year, most notably the £1bn court battle between Rusal chief executive Oleg Deripaska and businessman Michael Cherney, which settled in September.
Richard East, Quinn Emanuel’s London office co-managing partner, led one of the firm’s other standout cases of last year along with partner Matthew Bunting, the dispute over the Barclay brothers’ acquisition of the Maybourne Hotel Group.
The US firm’s 2012 City turnover hit £27.5m, up from £21.5m in 2011. Its profit margin remained among the highest in the market at 68 per cent, or £18.7m, making an average profit per equity partner in the London office of around £2.6m.
East said one of the reasons for the firm’s high profitability was its widespread use of paralegals and contract lawyers, a model that helped keep leverage and fixed costs lower than at many of its rivals.
“In June 2012 we had 86 fee-earners on site and most of those were paralegals,” said East. “As a litigation firm you don’t want to take on too many permanent staff in case a big dispute settles. The Deripaska case required lots of foreign language-speaking lawyers and at one time we had 46 paralegals on that case alone, plus others on two or three other cases. That model is good for the client because they’re not paying the salaries or rates for associates and good for us as we don’t have huge fixed costs.”
Quinn Emanuel’s London office currently has 24 permanent lawyers in total, 10 of whom are partners.
In total Quinn Emanuel’s London office handled four trials during 2012. While East admitted there was nothing currently on the horizon as large as the Deripaska case, a matter that kept the firm busy for two-thirds of last year, he said there were some significant new mandates for 2013 including work for Quinn Emanuel’s recently launched arbitration team.
The firm’s last 12 months were characterised by a succession of partner hires in Europe, which took the London total to 10, and office launches. Last week the firm opened the doors to its newest office, in Paris, which it launched following the hire of arbitration partner Philippe Pinsolle from Shearman & Sterling.