City push pays off as Dechert’s London revenue shoots up in 2012

Dechert’s London office has revealed a 44 per cent increase in revenue following a year characterised by aggressive hiring across the City.

That said, the firm did not release an actual turnover figure for its London base. The US firm, which posted an 8.6 per cent increase in global gross revenue to $729m for the 2012 financial year, has expanded its London office significantly over the past two years.

The recruitment ball began rolling in April 2011, when the London office hired DLA Piper’s joint global head of litigation Neil Gerrard and Emea head of corporate crime and investigations Jonathan Pickworth (1 April 2011). DLA Piper investigations and compliance partner Duncan Wiggetts (7 October 2011) and head of trade and government relations Miriam Gonzalez (25 October 2011) followed their lead months later.

That hiring spree continued into 2012, with notable hires including Herbert Smith’s Europe head of litigation, arbitration and employment Dmitry Kurochkin (21 June 2012), who joined the firm’s Moscow office, and Norton Rose litigator Antony Dutton (5 January 2012).

The firm’s London and Dubai offices also poached around 25 members of staff from its now defunct rival Dewey & LeBoeuf (17 April 2012). The hiring frenzy saw a number of Dewey partners join Dechert’s City base, including corporate lawyers Louise Roman Bernstein and Camille Abousleiman (16 April 2012), who recently advised on the debt restructuring of Kazakhstan-focused oil and gas group Max Petroleum (3 December 2012).

The deal came months after the firm raided Chadbourne & Parke’s energy practice to launch an office in Almaty, Kazakhstan (5 April 2012). The loss of the office reopened old wounds for Chadbourne after a bitter dispute erupted when Dechert poached a number of its senior partners in Russia three years ago (8 May 2009).

Dechert’s global revenue increase, up from $671m in 2011, could also be down to a number of office openings during 2012. Aside from Kazakhstan the firm opened offices in Chicago (24 May 2012), Dubai (17 April 2012) and Frankfurt (17 January 2012) with hires from Mayer Brown and Dewey.

Dechert said it would not release further financial details on its London office and managing partner Jason Butwick was not available for comment at the time of writing.

However, chief executive officer Daniel O’Donnell told The Lawyer: “London has become the legal hub for work being done particularly in the Middle East and in eastern Europe – this office was our single biggest growth area in 2012. Our success last year was the result of a combined effort between recent joiners and longer-term Dechert partners.”

The global results point to a steady climb for the firm, which posted a 3.5 per cent increase in revenue for the 2011 financial year.