Quinn Emanuel posts another record year on the back of contingent fees

Litigation firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan has entered this year’s US financial reporting season with an 18 per cent increase in gross revenue, taking global turnover to a record $852.5m.

John Quinn
John Quinn

The US firm’s founder and managing partner John Quinn told The Lawyer that the boost was the result of a particularly busy year in intellectual property and structured finance, adding that a “significant” portion of turnover was enhanced by contingent fees and a range of other alternative fee recoveries.

This was the same trigger behind the firm’s growth spurt in the previous financial year, when the firm posted a 31 per cent increase in gross revenue to $723.4m (30 January 2012). In January 2012 The Lawyer revealed a range of fee arrangements that it had used on various cases, including one in which it took a 20 per cent cut of damages estimated at $150m (16 January 2012).

The US litigation firm also posted a 17 per cent in net profit to $586.3m and a 6.6 per cent increase in average profit per equity partner to $4.4m. The firm had 121 equity partners in 2012.

This growth was matched in the UK, where revenue grew by 30 per cent to £27.5m (9 January 2013). The firm’s London co-head Richard East said this was the result of a number of major cases that the office worked on settling in 2012. In particular, the £1bn court battle between Rusal chief executive Oleg Deripaska and businessman Michael Cherney settled in September.

Profit margin in the City also remained among the highest in the market at 68 per cent, or £18.7m, in 2012 – bringing average profit per equity partner to around £2.6m. When The Lawyer reported on these results in January, East said one of the reasons for this high profitability was a widespread use of paralegals and contract lawyers, a model that has helped keep leverage and fixed costs low.

The firm’s last 12 months were characterised by a succession of partner hires in Europe, notably from UK rival Allen & Overy (9 May 2012), taking the London partner total to 10. In January the firm opened a Paris office, which it launched following the hire of arbitration partner Philippe Pinsolle from Shearman & Sterling.