Top 50 US Firms in London Rank8

New York’s Shearman & Sterling, best known for finance as well as high-end corporate work, has all the hallmarks of a top-tier, white shoe elite Manhattan denizen except one: profitability. Despite an 18 per cent spike in average profit per equity partner (PEP) in 2016 and continued growth in 2017, and also despite a partnership restructuring that introduced a fixed-share layer into the global partnership, Shearman’s PEP has stubbornly refused to budge into the bracket the firm would like. In

New York’s Shearman & Sterling, best known for finance as well as high-end corporate work, has all the hallmarks of a top-tier, white shoe elite Manhattan denizen except one: profitability. Despite an 18 per cent spike in average profit per equity partner (PEP) in 2016 and continued growth in 2017, and also despite a partnership restructuring that introduced a fixed-share layer into the global partnership, Shearman’s PEP has stubbornly refused to budge into the bracket the firm would like.

In 2017, it rose from just under $2.2m to $2.3m. While by no means poor, this is at a time when the firms it considers its peers are reporting average profits in excess of $3m or even more.

It is also in spite of the fact that Shearman regularly features on some of the market’s top deals. One of the largest M&A deals won by the firm last year was Liberty Global’s $9.3bn split-off of its Latin America operations while in another headline-grabbing deal, Shearman further advised CVS Health on its $69bn merger with pharmaceuticals company Aetna.

Indeed, the financial metrics are heading in the right direction, as is Shearman’s overall growth both globally, where total revenue rose from $912m to $917.5m, and in London, where total revenue has steadily grown in recent years. That said the City office has seen lateral hiring levels fall over the past year or so and indeed saw high-yield partner Rebecca Marques and EMEA capital markets head Apostolos Gkoutzinis join Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy recently. Across the Channel Shearman’s Brussels office continued to be hit in 2017 following the departure of competition partner Trevor Soames to Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan in 2016. Soames was joined by two more of his Shearman colleagues in May last year, including the firm’s Brussels managing partner Stephen Mavroghenis. Shearman made up Brussels counsel Elvira Aliende Rodriguez to partner a month later.

Back in the US, Shearman hired a competition and litigation team from Hunton & Williams featuring Washington managing partner David Higbee and competition head Bruce Hoffman, as well as Djordje Petkoski, Ryan Shores and Todd Stenerson.

Shearman’s new senior partner Dave Beveridge, who was elected as senior partner at the start of 2018, confirmed that the firm has been moving its practice mix into more profitable businesses while also trying to grow disproportionally its “too small” corporate practice in the US. Other practices Shearman is focusing on growing include litigation and antitrust.

In terms of geographical growth Shearman opened two offices in Texas: in Austin following the arrival of a seven-partner team from Andrews Kurth Kenyon, which is due to merge with Hunton & Williams; and in Houston in a bid to focus on oil, gas and projects work.

Along with the election of Beveridge, Shearman also named global head of M&A George Casey and global head of litigation Adam Hakki as the firm’s new co-managing partners, the first to assume these roles since John Madden and Georg Thoma in 2004. Former senior partner Creighton Condon returned to full-time practice after six years at the helm of the firm.

TRAINING CONTRACTS

What is the trainee salary at Shearman & Sterling?

1st year trainee: £45,000

2nd year trainee: £50,000

What is the NQ salary at Shearman & Sterling?

NQ: £105,000

Number of trainees: 30

SHEARMAN & STERLING FACTS

Founded: 1873

Location: London Liverpool Street