Quinn Emanuel posts 62 per cent profit margin

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan has posted a 31 per cent increase in fee income for the 2010 financial year, with total revenue rising to $550.5m.

Bill Urquhart
Bill Urquhart

The US litigation firm’s average profit per equity partner figure was also up, by 9 per cent to $3.62m.

The impressive results are underlined by Quinn’s profit margin of 62 per cent. Quinn’s net profit for 2010 was $340.4m, a figure name partner Bill Urquhart said was largely due to its unusual business model.

“There are a number of factors for our strong performance last year, including the fact that in the US we’re allowed to handle cases on a contingent basis where we receive a percentage of the settlement,” Urquhart said. “We were very successful in several cases which settled for hundreds of millions of dollars last year.”

Urquhart added that because the cases had settled he was unable to give specific details. However, Quinn’s IP litigators are known to be at the centre of several high-profile cases, not least the ongoing battle over the operating systems for smartphones, a fight that involves heavyweight names such as Microsoft, Google and Apple.

In this sector alone, Quinn has represented HTC against Apple in a dispute over the Android operating system and Motorola against both Apple and Microsoft in similar patent infringement cases.

Urquhart said the other major contributor to Quinn’s results was its structured finance practice, an area that has enjoyed particular growth in London in recent years in the office headed by partner Richard East.

“Our margin has always been historically higher than the industry in general because of the contingency arrangements and because we’re a single practice law firm focused solely on commercial disputes,” Urquhart added. “We don’t need the infrastructure of a more traditional firm.”

The average revenue per lawyer at Quinn last year was $1.12m and average compensation for all partners was $2.84m.

In 2010 the firm had an average of 489 lawyers and 131 partners of which 94 were full equity.