The Score

January 29, 2010 12:58 PM

THE AM LAW 100: Gross Revenue, Profits Down at Goodwin Procter

Posted by Ross Todd

Goodwin Procter chair and managing partner Regina Pisa offers a graphic metaphor for the firm's efforts to stay on budget last year. "It was a little like catching a falling knife," she says. "You were constantly not quite sure where you were on the revenue side and you were dramatically cutting expenses at the same time."

The firm caught the knife, coming in just under its revised 2009 budget, but suffered some minor cuts. According to numbers released by the firm Friday, Goodwin's gross revenue in 2009 fell 4 percent to $658 million. Revenue per lawyer dropped 7.5 percent to $788,000. And profits per equity partner (PPP) fell nearly 3 percent to $1.27 million.

Starting in 2009, Goodwin, which previously reported its financial returns (both internally and externally) on a fiscal year ending in September, shifted to a fiscal year ending in December. In 2008 the firm reported gross revenue jumping 13 percent to $690 million; PPP was down 8 percent that year, hitting $1.41 million.

Pisa says a "fairly disciplined expense saving exercise" enabled Goodwin to increase its net distribution to equity partners while revenue fell. (PPP still dropped given that the firm took on 14 new equity partners in 2009, bringing the total number to 207.)

Goodwin cut 38 associates and 36 staff in February 2009.The firm laid off another 21 associates (lawyers who'd started in the fall of 2008 and worked in Goodwin's business department) and 34 staffers in November.

Looking ahead, Pisa predicts the firm's revenues will essentially be flat in 2010. With fewer lawyers doing the work, RPL and PPP should rise marginally. She also predicts an increased demand in real estate and real estate capital markets work in 2010. "I think [the recovery]'s beginning to purr," she says.

This report is part of The Am Law Daily's ongoing Web coverage of The Am Law 100’s 2009 financials. Results are preliminary. Final rankings and full results for The Am Law 100 will be published in The American Lawyer's May 2010 issue and on The Am Law Second Hundred will be published in the June issue.

The final published results of last year's Am Law 100 rankings are available here.

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