It looks as though 2006 will prove to be considerably better than 2004 for the international ambitions of US firm Perkins Coie.
Two years ago the Seattle-based firm shut down its office in Hong Kong, citing the continuing economic downturn in the region as well as the outbreak of Sars.
The firm was also believed to be considering dispensing with its office in Beijing, although in the end it maintained the outpost.
Now, however, all looks much better in Asia for Perkins Coie. In August this year the firm received approval from the Chinese Ministry of Justice to open an office in Shanghai. The new China base, in the Shanghai Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park, will focus primarily on IP and will advise Chinese clients with outbound US legal requirements.
IP is a significant part of Perkins Coie’s practice, so it is was always unlikely that the firm would want to stray too far from the currently booming China market. Despite the Hong Kong closure in 2004, the firm has never fully ditched its IP focus in Asia.
Perkins Coie’s managing partner Bob Giles says: “At the time of the Hong Kong closure we made a conscious decision to maintain IP. Shanghai is a significant centre for IP and life sciences, so at the beginning of 2005 we applied for our licence.”
It is a dramatic turnaround for Perkins Coie and signals its ambitions to maintain its share of the booming China market. But don’t expect to see it embark on a programme of wider international expansion any time soon.
“A London office is not on the agenda,” Giles says. “Our strategy is much more about growth in the US.”
Projected figures for the current financial year suggest it is going some way to achieving its growth ambitions. Giles says 2005, in which Perkins achieved gross revenue of $318m (£171m) and average profit per equity partner of $610,000 (£328,420), was the firm’s “best year ever”.
“We’re on track to make more than $700,000 (£376,880) for 2006, or maybe the high sixes,” says Giles. “I’d guess revenues will be around $340m (£183.05m) to $350m (3188.44m).”
That growth has come across the board, according to Giles. Although the technology-focused firm was certainly hurt by the dotcom slowdown, its litigation group remained strong.
“All round, 2006 has been very
Turnover: $318m (£171.21m)
Managing partner: Bob Giles
Total number of lawyers: 555
Total number of partners: 152
Profit per equity partner: $610,000 (£328,420)
Main practice areas: IP, real estate, corporate, litigation
Clients: Boeing, Google, Intel, Microsoft, Nintendo
Locations: 13 offices in the US, plus Beijing and Shanghai