The Score

January 27, 2009 5:54 PM

THE AM LAW 100: No Chill for Boston's Foley Hoag as Revenues, Profits Rise

Posted by Rachel Breitman

Boston's Foley Hoag saw a bump up in both gross revenue and profits in 2008. Gross revenue for the firm increased 2.5 percent to $154 million; profits per equity partner rose more than 5 percent to more than $840,000. 

The increases were due, in large part, to growth in several areas, including securities, energy, and policy work, the firm says. Niche areas within these practices, including an accountants' liability group, alternative energy group, international disputes group, and the government strategies and investigations group all stayed busy in 2008.

Despite the gains, revenue per lawyer was flat at $705,000. Firm head count grew by 2.5 percent in 2008, from 213 to 219; the total number of partners held steady at 90 (59 are equity partners).

To compensate for a slowdown in M&A work, the firm shifted corporate partners to its investment advisory practice. The group predominantly represents hedge funds in regulatory filings and corporate structurings.

Foley's high-profile international disputes practice was busy last year, representing the Republic of Georgia in the International Court of Justice, charging Russia with ethnic cleansing, as Michael Goldhaber chronicled in the January issue of American Lawyer. Foley Hoag also won an investor dispute for the government of Bolivia over the nationalization of the telephone company Entel. 

"International cases are not the most profitable areas that you can have, but it is an economically viable practice area," says Foley managing partner Robert Sanoff. "We are thinking about this in terms of investment, and strategic growth."

Foley is taking a cautious approach for 2009, bracing itself with belt-tightening measures. The firm prepaid several months worth of its 2009 office rents. Just last week, it announced layoffs of both lawyers and staff. In cutting 17 associates, Foley trimmed overall head count by 6 percent; 15 support staff also were let go.

"Although we had a strong 2008 financial performance, we had an overcapacity of associates," says Sarnoff. "With a big associate class that had arrived in October, and reduced attrition rates, we thought it would be prudent to do a head count reduction."

The firm plans to continue developing new practice groups in 2009. And it's hoping to maximize productivity--Foley has just hired its first director of professional development, Cynthia Lewiton Jackson.  A former global director of career develop at Bain & Co., Jackson will work with firm leaders on improving performance assessments, as well as working with more junior associates on developing legal skills.

Click here
for The Am Law 100 -- A Work in Progress, a chart tracking the numbers. The final published results of last year's Am Law 100 ranking are available here.

This report is part of The Am Law Daily's ongoing Web coverage of The Am Law 100s 2008 financials, bringing you our own reports and those from our sibling publications at Incisive Media. Results are preliminary. In keeping with past practices, we do not reveal which firms cooperate in providing financial information and which do not.

Final rankings and full results for The Am Law 100 will be published in The American Lawyer's May issue and on The Am Law Second Hundred will be published in the June issue.

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