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March 15, 2012 4:56 PM

The Am Law 100, the Early Numbers: Brown Rudnick's Profits and Revenues Drop After Back-to-Back Record Years

Posted by Ross Todd

After enjoying record years in both 2009 and 2010, Brown Rudnick saw its gross revenue drop 4.5 percent to $158 million and its profits per partner fall 5.7 percent to $1.23 million last year, according to The American Lawyer's reporting. The Boston-based firm's overall lawyer head count held steady at 184, and revenue per lawyer was off 3.9 percent to $860,000.

Brown Rudnick's 2011 financial performance marks something of a leveling-off after two straight years of rapid growth pushed profits per partner past the $1 million mark. The firm's profits jumped 15.4 percent in 2009 and an eye-popping 36.6 percent in 2010.

With 2010 marking the end of several major bankruptcy cases on which Brown Rudnick represented either the creditors committee or major creditors—including those of amusement park operator Six Flags Entertainment Corporation, auto parts maker Visteon Corporation, and flash memory chip manufacturer Spansion Inc.—firm CEO Joseph Ryan says the firm anticipated a drop in revenue last year and actually fared better than expected.

As reported by The Am Law Daily earlier this month, the firm picked up the debtors-side work for Massachusetts-based Beacon Power Corporation, which sought Chapter 11 protection in Delaware federal bankruptcy court in October. Fees for that assignment are subject to court approval and will likely be reflected in the firm's 2012 returns now that Beacon's sale to private equity firm Rockland Capital has been approved by federal regulators

Ryan says Brown Rudnick is sharpening its focus on its hedge fund and venture capital clients—a strategy he believes will produce strong returns this year. "We're pretty bullish on 2012," he says. "We don't expect there to be any dramatic increases in restructuring work, although in Europe that could change depending on what happens with the bond market."

In fact, Ryan sees the international market as ripe with potential opportunities, given that the firm has nearly doubled the size of its London office over the past two years to about 40 lawyers. Pointing specifically to Africa, the Middle East, Russia, and Central Europe, Ryan says London is "a great jumping off point for global work beyond the European Union."

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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