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February 24, 2010 12:37 PM

THE AM LAW 100: Profits, Revenue Hit Record Highs at Jenner & Block

Posted by Andrew Longstreth

For the second straight year, Jenner & Block managed to do more with less. Between 2007 and 2008, Jenner made modest gains in profits and revenue with fewer lawyers. Last year, it did even better. While headcount at the Chicago-based firm dropped 1.5 percent, gross revenue increased nearly 6 percent to $367 million and profits per partner skyrocketed 33 percent to $1.1 million, both record highs for the firm. Jenner also saw an increase of nearly 8 percent in revenue per lawyer at $855,000.

The increases, says Susan Levy, Jenner's managing partner, are attributable to strong countercyclical practices and a reduction in expenses. As part of its cost cutting efforts, the firm eliminated 34 support staff positions in its Chicago and Washington offices last March, according to The National Law Journal, a sibling publication.

"We had a strong year," says Levy, noting that the firm landed several marquee assignments resulting from the recession. The engagements included: work on the General Motors bankruptcy; Jenner chairman Anton Valukas's appointment as examiner in the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers; representing plaintiffs in auction rate securities cases; and representing the trustee in the Sentinel Management Group bankruptcy.

Jenner's partner profits jumped, in part, because the firm had fewer equity partners last year. The firm's equity partner ranks shrank by 17 percent to 128. Some departing partners left to join the Obama Administration, including appellate and Supreme Court practice co-chair Donald Verrilli, who became associate deputy attorney general. The firm periodically reviews partners, Levy says. There were no lawyer layoffs in 2009, she says, and no active de-equitization program.(According to the NLJ report cited above, the firm asked 10 partners to leave in October 2008.)

Despite the drop-off in headcount, the firm expanded its reach in 2009, opening an office in Los Angeles with two attornyes from Kirkland & Ellis. Looking ahead, Levy says the firm is in growth mode and will be in the lateral market in 2010.

This report is part of The Am Law Daily's ongoing Web coverage of 2009 financial results of The Am Law 100/200. 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 AmericanLawyer.com. 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; the Second Hundred results are available here.

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