K&L Gates smashes through $1bn turnover mark

The newest member of the billion-dollar club posted a total turnover of $1.034bn for 2009, an increase of 7.8 per cent on 2008’s $959.5m.

Average profit per equity partner (PEP) was also up, although only marginally. During the 2009 calendar year PEP rose from $855,000 to $860,000, an increase of 0.6 per cent.

K&L Gates’ growth in recent years has primarily been powered by merger activity. Last March the firm merged with 250-lawyer firm Bell Boyd & Lloyd, a deal that gave the firm offices in Chicago and San Diego and which followed the summer 2008 takeover of Carolina-headquartered outfit Kennedy Covington Lobdell & Hickman.

In addition, last year K&L Gates hired the former head of Ashurst’s Dubai office, Paul de Cordova, to open its first base in the Middle East.

It also launched its fifth Asian office by setting up shop in Singapore and hired a two-partner team from Simmons & Simmons to launch in Frankfurt.

The firm’s chairman Peter Kalis (pictured) said that for the majority of firms, 2009 had been a “365-day-long test”.

“Most major law firms addressed issues in their businesses because they were tested,” added Kalis, “and for the most part they passed.”

Kalis said there were grounds for optimism in the current year because the fundamentals that drove major international law firms, including people, products and expertise, were still in place.

In addition, most firms had become more efficient businesses as a result of last year’s “test”.

Kalis said the firm would continue to be open to strategic growth as well as lateral opportunities.

“The [K&L Gates] partnership has really pulled together behind the view that we should continue with our strategic growth,” Kalis said.