The Score

February 7, 2012 2:56 PM

The Am Law 100: the Early Numbers: Revenue, Profits Up at Schulte Roth

Posted by Amy Kolz

Halting a two-year slide, Schulte Roth & Zabel saw its gross revenue inch up 1.2 percent to $377.5 million in 2011, while profits per partner rose 5.1 percent to $2.12 million according to reporting by The American Lawyer. Though the latter figure surpassed the firm's per capita profit results for the previous two years, it was still 8 percent below the 2007 peak of almost $2.36 million.

"We were busier throughout the firm," says partner and executive committee member Alan Waldenberg, noting that Schulte attorneys racked up roughly 5 percent more billable hours last year than they did in 2010. The firm's litigation department, says Waldenberg, was particularly active. 

Among the matters that kept Schulte trial lawyers busy last year: litigation involving longtime client Cerberus Capital Management's proposed $1.1 billion acquisition of Innkeepers USA Trust. The hotel owner sued Cerberus in August after the fund invoked a material adverse change clause to walk away from the billion-dollar deal. Schulte also represented interdealer broker Tullett Prebon in complex litigation with rival BGC Partners related to the latter's alleged raid of nearly 80 Tullet Prebon brokers. 

On the transactional side, Schulte represented Cerberus on its sale of Chrysler Financial to Toronto-Dominion Bank, a $6.3 billion deal that closed in April. The firm also represented The Veritas Capital Fund III LP in its sale of Vangent Inc. to General Dynamics, a $960 million deal announced in August. 

That work—and everything else on Schulte's docket—was done with fewer lawyers, as the firm's total lawyer head count decreased by 8.6 percent last year. The decline helped drive a 10 percent increase in the firm's revenue per lawyer to $1.02 million.  

"The job market opened up a bit [last year], meeting any pent up demand from associates who wanted to escape the good ship Schulte Roth,"  says Waldenberg, adding that the firm has no plans to immediately replenish its junior ranks. "Like other people, we've learned our lesson and will wait a bit longer before hiring like crazy."

A bit longer could become a lot longer, depending on the trajectory of a still shaky economy. "I have the same feeling in the pit of my stomach that I had [throughout] 2011," says Waldenberg. "We're doing okay but the world isn't stable, and we're just one macroeconomic event from who knows what. It's a very different feeling in the pit of my stomach than five years ago, and it's not just the chili my wife made me [for Super Bowl Sunday]."  

This report is part of The Am Law Daily's ongoing Web coverage of 2011 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 2012 issue and on The Am Law Second Hundred will be published in the June issue.

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