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February 4, 2011 3:06 PM

The Am Law 100: Fourth Straight Year of Revenue Decline for Cadwalader

Posted by Chris Johnson

Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft has reported a decline in revenue for the fourth consecutive year.

Gross revenue dropped 6 percent to $429.5 million in 2010, according to figures provided by the firm. Cadwalader has seen a steep 27 percent decline in revenue since 2007, when that figure was $587 million.

Despite this continued drop in income, average profits per equity partner (PPP) rose slightly in 2010, climbing  to $2.39 million.

Cadwalader chair Christopher White, commenting on the results in an e-mailed statement, said the firm's 2010 performance was "in line with expectations."

The gain in partner profits was not the result of any significant cuts to Cadwalader's cost base, according to White. (Total lawyer head count was down by just 3 percent to 481 lawyers--a stark contrast to contractions seen in previous years. The firm let go of 131 lawyers in 2008; in 2009, the equity partner head count decreased 21 percent.) Instead, the firm, White said, is "reaping the benefits of a strategic plan that provides target investments for growth while prudently managing costs."

White pointed to a number of "accretive" strategic hires in the U.S., Asia, and London last year as examples of such investment. The firm captured a three-partner disputes team from Proskauer Rose in March, including litigation cochair Louis Solomon and antitrust cochair Colin Underwood,and DLA Piper's Beijing private equity head Rocky Lee joined Cadwalader as Asia managing partner in June.

The pace of lateral hiring hasn't let up into 2011. In January, Cadwalader acquired a nine-partner energy and commodities team from McDermott Will & Emery--including McDermott's former cohead of global M&A, Karen Dewis. White describes the acquisition as "the single most important investment we made."

Cadwalader's countercyclical practices "performed well" over the past 12 months, White said, singling out government investigations and litigation, particularly antitrust and financial services litigation. No areas of the firm had struggled dispropotionately during 2010, he said.

 

This report is part of The Am Law Daily's ongoing Web coverage of 2010 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 2011 issue and on AmericanLawyer.com. The Am Law Second Hundred will be published in the June issue.

Results for the 2010 fiscal year reflect a change in the survey methodology. Per-lawyer and per-partner results for 2010 are based on a full calendar year average FTE head count, while published results for previous years were, in most cases, based on an August 31 FTE head count. When possible, we have recalculated fiscal year 2009 numbers to reflect the change in head count and based percentages on those adjusted numbers.

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

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