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Revenue growth at Shearman & Sterling’s City office has outstripped that of the firm as a whole, with London posting a 3 per cent rise to $112.6m while firmwide turnover stood relatively still at $752m.
Growth in London revenue was accompanied by a healthy boost in lawyer numbers, with lawyer headcount growing by 28 per cent from 114 to 146. However, most of these hires were at associate level as the office had hired a number of partners the previous year. Exits at partnership level last year included the firm’s former London arbitration head David Reed, who moved to the London office of US rival Arnold & Porter in May (14 May 2012).
The firm’s London head Nicholas Buckworth told The Lawyer that drivers for growth last year included the firm’s London high-yield, projects and M&A group, while private equity could be an “area of interest” for new hires in the current year. Conversations with the firm’s City partners last week suggest the growth in turnover was expected.
“We have a good pipeline of large, long-term transactions in the projects group so volatility in this area is much less [compared to other groups],” commented Buckworth. “Banking and finance, for example, can be much tricker because the market can go from boom to bust quite quickly, but what we saw in 2012 was an agility in looking for other opportunities, so banking and finance working much closer with the high-yield team, for example. If the economy hadn’t been so difficult I would have expected to have seen more of a substantial increase.”
Buckworth also pointed out, however, that it is hard to “pick apart” why the London office might have outperformed the firm as a whole because the US firm intentionally built a platform that concentrates on cross-border transactions.
Firmwide, lawyer headcount also increased, growing from 834 to 842. However, profit per equity partner dropped 2.6 per cent last year, from $1.56m to $1.52m, as did revenue per lawyer, which fell from $900,000 to $895,000.