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February 23, 2012 9:58 AM

The Am Law 100, the Early Numbers: A Flat Year for Profits at Shearman

Posted by Michael D. Goldhaber

After a down year in 2010, Shearman & Sterling saw profits per partner hold steady at roughly $1.56 million in 2011, while its gross revenue inched up less than 2 percent to $750 million and its revenue per lawyer ticked down less than 3 percent to $900,000, according to The American Lawyer's reporting.

Despite a strong first half of the year, Shearman began to suffer a general slowdown in transactional work with the explosion of the Greek debt crisis in August, says senior partner Rohan Weerasinghe. "Overall, I'm very pleased with revenue increasing in what was a challenging, bifurcated year," Weerasinghe says.

Among the major deals announced before work started to wither, Shearman advised medical device maker Synthes on its proposed $21 billion acquisition by Johnson & Johnson, Chinese social media player Renren on its initial public offering in the United States, and Dow Chemical on its planned $20 billion joint venture with Saudi Aramco, which should keep lawyers busy for years to come.

The dip in revenue per lawyer was a product of the associate ranks growing by more than 6 percent, as the firm welcomed back deferred associates from the summer class of 2009, and built a team of some 18 lawyers around two Hong Kong law partners who moved over from O’Melveny in 2010.

Shearman's significant lateral hires last year included a well-respected antitrust team from Howrey in Brussels, as well as project finance partners John Inglis, from Ashurst in London, and Christophe Asselineau, from Simmons & Simmons in Paris.

"I look upon 2011 as a year of ongoing investment in our global platform," says Weerasinghe. "There is an inevitable drag factor. But these are investments I'm very confident will pay off in future revenue growth."

This report is part of The Am Law Daily's early coverage of 2011 financial results of The Am Law 100/200. Final rankings and full results for The Am Law 100 will be published in The American Lawyer's May 2012 issue and on AmericanLawyer.com. The Am Law Second Hundred will be published in the June issue. An interactive chart of the financial results reported so far is available here. The chart will be updated as additional data is reported.

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