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February 15, 2012 6:08 PM

The Am Law 100, the Early Numbers: Latham Hits New Heights

Posted by Michael D. Goldhaber

Latham & Watkins has made back all the ground it lost in the great recession, and then some.

The firm's gross revenue rose 11.6 percent to $2.15 billion last year, blowing past the 2007 mark of $2.01 billion, according to The American Lawyer's reporting.

Perhaps more significantly, profits per partner increased 13.8 percent to essentially match 2007's $2.27 million figure (profits nose-dived 20.5 percent the following year amid the economic crisis). Even the firm's revenue per lawyer grew 7 percent last year, to $1.07 million, topping even the roughly $1.05 million figure collected during the halcyon days of 2007. 

Global chair Robert Dell credits Latham's international office network for the firm's strong financial performance last year. "We've been investing in our global platform for ten years, and this year we saw the success of that [strategy]," Dell says. "The integration of our global platform is paying dividends."

According to Dell, Latham saw a boom in all of its cross-border practices in 2011, including cartel regulation, corruption investigation, project finance, and capital markets.

Continuing to expand its network both at home and overseas last year, nabbed a six-partner patent litigation group from Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati in northern California to complement three lateral patent litigation partners in Washington, D.C. The firm also launched a Boston office with six partners and a counsel from Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, Bingham McCutchen, and Proskauer Rose. The Boston group mainly serves emerging companies and private equity clients in the technology sector.

On the downside, Latham lost three capital markets partners in Hong Kong to Kirkland & Ellis, including former global corporate vice-chair David Zhang.

Energy dealmakers William Finnegan IV and Sean Wheeler—who were among the eight defectors from top Texas firms to launch Latham's Houston office in March 2010—fired on all cylinders in their first full calendar year with the firm. In May, the pair helped the oil and gas driller Rowan Companies sell its mining equipment arm to Joy Global , Inc. for $1.1 billion. In July, they helped Energy Transfer Equity outbid the Williams Companies on the way to acquiring Southern Union Gas for $5.9 billion. (See here and here.)

Last year also saw Latham negotiate a steady stream of tech-related deals. The firm advised National Semiconductor on its $6.5 billion sale to Texas Instruments, and Beckman Coulter on its $6.8 billion sale to Danaher. In the private equity sphere, Latham advised The Carlyle Group on the formation of a $5 billion Asian shipbuilding joint venture and Leonard Green on its participation in the $2.8 billion purchase of BJ’s Wholesale Club.

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 updated as additional data is reported.

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