US fees and profits: more, more, more
5 July 2004
US firms have had another bumper year, according to the latest AmLaw 100 figures.
Seven firms out of the US top 10 posted double-digit increases in turnover, with both Jones Day and White & Case increasing revenues by more than 20 per cent. Jones Day grossed just over a billion dollars, while White & Case turned over $811m (£446.6m) – on track for breaking the billion-dollar revenue barrier in 2005.
Latham & Watkins’ turnover rose by 14 per cent to $1.03bn (£568.8m), putting it in the billion-dollar category for the first time, joining Baker & McKenzie, Jones Day and Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom.
Meanwhile, Kirkland & Ellis made the AmLaw top 10 for the first time, displacing McDermott Will & Emery with a revenue increase of 18.7 per cent.
Kirkland’s figures were underpinned by a strong performance in private equity and bankruptcy; it worked on the restructurings of Conseco and United Airlines and handled a series of deals for Bain Capital and Vestar Capital Partners, among others.
Other major movers were Reed Smith, with a turnover leap of 40.6 per cent to $441.5m (£243.1m), taking it into the top 50 for the first time, and Greenberg Traurig, whose 23.1 per cent rise to $572.5m (£315.3m) propelled it into the top 20. Both firms have aimed for growth, with Miami-based Greenberg hiring from Wilson Sonsini to open in Silicon Valley and launching practices in Switzerland and the Netherlands.
Reed Smith’s revenue figures are almost entirely boosted by a series of aggressive mergers. Having already taken on teams in New York and Virginia, it merged with 215-lawyer California firm Crosby Heafey Roach & May in January 2003.
The Wall Street elite had a less spectacular year in revenue terms. Sullivan & Cromwell recorded a strong 10.1 per cent rise to $687m (£378.3m), but Davis Polk & Wardwell and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett only managed 3 per cent to $587m (£323.2m) and 6.1 per cent to $576.5m (£317.5m) respectively.
Two new entrants to the AmLaw 100 recorded big jumps in turnover. IP specialist Fish & Richardson translated an 18.7 per cent rise in headcount into a 20.1 per cent revenue rise, to $197.5m (£108.8m), which placed it 95th in the table. Litigation boutique Preston Gates & Ellis – home of Bill Gates’ father – posted a 25.6 per cent increase in turnover to $189m (£104.1m), at 100th in the table.
New York firms inevitably still dominate the profits per equity partner charts. Wach-tell Lipton Rosen & Katz still has the richest partners in the US, but it did not equal last year’s record-breaking figures. Profits were down 11 per cent to a mere $2.6m (£1.4m).
One of the most astounding performers in the profits tables was leveraged finance specialist Cahill Gordon & Reindel. Its revenue per lawyer increased 23.5 per cent, which helped take profits up 30.4 per cent to $2.4m (£1.3m) – second in the table.
But even Cahill was outperformed by litigation specialist Dickstein Shapiro Morin & Oshinsky, which saw its revenue per lawyer shoot up 34.7 per cent – powering an astonishing profits rise of 58.6 per cent to $1.9m (£1m).
|Top 20 US firms by turnover|
|Firm||2003 gross revenue $m (£m)||% change in gross||Profits per partner $K (£K)||% change in PPP||Lawyers|
|1||Skadden Arps||1,330.0 (732.4)||1.5||1,600 (881)||-0.3||1,650|
|2||Baker & McKenzie||1,134.0 (624.4)||7.0||595 (328)||0.0||3,053|
|3||Jones Day||1,035.0 (569.9)||20.9||635 (350)||10.4||1,970|
|4||Latham & Watkins||1,033.0 (568.8)||14.0||1,275 (702)||11.8||1,513|
|5||Sidley Austin Brown & Wood||926.0 (509.9)||11.4||895 (493)||9.8||1,421|
|6||Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw||813.0 (447.7)||15.3||820 (452)||12.3||1,249|
|7||White & Case||811.0 (446.6)||20.1||1,010 (556)||8.0||1,552|
|8||Weil Gotshal & Manges||801.0 (441.1)||16.4||1,505 (829)||15.8||1,015|
|9||Shearman & Sterling||730.5 (402.3)||4.4||1,215 (669)||-4.7||988|
|10||Kirkland & Ellis||725.0 (399.2)||18.7||1,900 (1,046)||5.6||854|
|11||Sullivan & Cromwell||687.0 (378.3)||10.1||1,900 (1,046)||10.5||647|
|12||McDermott Will & Emery||668.0 (367.8)||6.4||1,115 (614)||4.2||901|
|13||O'Melveny & Myers||658.0 (362.3)||16.5||1,280 (705)||13.3||909|
|14||Gibson Dunn & Crutcher||645.5 (355.5)||13.4||1,375 (757)||16.0||747|
|15||Morgan Lewis & Bockius||631.0 (347.5)||13.2||825 (454)||14.6||1,063|
|16||Davis Polk & Wardwell||587.0 (323.2)||3.0||1,925 (1,060)||8.5||581|
|17||Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld||585.0 (322.1)||1.7||865 (476)||16.9||832|
|18||Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton||580.0 (319.4)||9.2||1,445 (796)||0.0||758|
|19||Simpson Thacher & Bartlett||576.5 (317.5)||6.1||1,940 (1,068)||5.1||637|
|20||Greenberg Traurig||572.5 (315.3)||23.1||875 (482)||12.2||952|
|Source: AmLaw 100|
|Top 10 US firms by profits per partner|
|Firm||2003 PPP* $K (£K)||% change in PPP|
|2||Cahill Gordon||2,405 (1,324)||30.4|
|4||Simpson Thacher||1,940 (1,068)||5.1|
|5||Dickstein Shapiro||1,935 (1,066)||58.6|
|6||Davis Polk||1,925 (1,060)||8.5|
|=7||Kirkland & Ellis||1,900 (1,046)||5.6|
|=7||Sullivan & Cromwell||1,900 (1,046)||10.5|
|9||Paul Weiss||1,840 (1,013)||5.7|
|10||Milbank Tweed||1,820 (1,002)||2.0|
|*profits per partner |
Source: AmLaw 100
|Most profitable non-New York firms|
|1||Dickstein Shapiro||1,935 (1,066)|
|2||Kirkland & Ellis||1,900 (1,046)|
|3||Gibson Dunn & Crutcher||1,375 (757)|
|4||O'Melveny & Myers||1,280 (705)|
|5||Latham & Watkins||1,275 (702)|
|6||McDermott Will & Emery||1,115 (614)|
|7||Howrey Simon||1,090 (600)|
|8||Paul Hastings||1,060 (584)|
|9||Bingham McCutchen||1,055 (581)|
|10||Goodwin Procter||1,025 (564)|
|Source: AmLaw 100|
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