The Score

February 5, 2009 6:52 PM

The AM LAW 100: Curtis Mallet-Prevost Sees Revenue Surge

Posted by Michael D. Goldhaber

Bucking the trend among New York law firms, Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle reports a 13.5 percent surge in revenue to $125 million. Curtis Mallet has chosen the worst business year in memory to cross the million-dollar profits per equity partner mark, with PPP up 11 percent to $1 million. Revenue per lawyer for the firm's 225 lawyers, scattered among 14 offices worldwide, nudged up 3.5 percent to $570,000.

Curtis Mallet managed a healthy profit increase despite opening new offices last year in Dubai, as well as Astana and Almaty in Kazakhstan.

Firm chairman George Kahale, who was profiled in The American Lawyer last year, says that Curtis Mallet has the right mix of groups for the current economic climate. "The practices that have been hit hard are really not our practice areas," he says. "We were never big in MBS or banking or M&A and private equity. We have a nice niche in the bankruptcy practice as conflicts counsel. And we migrated naturally into international arbitration just at the time when that was exploding as a practice area."

Curtis Mallet is well-known for helping controversial states, including Hugo Chavez's Venezuela, to renegotiate energy concessions, and handle the legal fallout. In October the firm renegotiated the development of the massive Kashagan oil field in Kazakhstan. The firm also restructured the financing of Venezuela's Orinoco oil projects after Chavez demanded the renegotiation of Western oil development contracts in 2007. Now it is fending off five state-investor claims against Venezuela, including multibillion-dollar arbitrations by the two oil companies that refused to renegotiate, Conoco and Exxon.

Kahale says the firm has been approached by at least three other sovereigns with state-investor concerns. "Our business plan is paying dividends," he says. "Our business plan is we don't take the investor's side. More and more states appreciate that position."

Curtis Mallet's light presence in corporate and banking has not only sheltered it from the slump. By keeping it free of conflicts, it also has helped it to build a reputation as conflicts counsel in major bankruptcies. Last year it played that role for Calpine Corporation. For the foreseeable future, Curtis Mallet will play the same role in history's biggest bankruptcy, as conflicts counsel for Lehman Brothers.

"I don't think any firm is immune from the financial crisis," says Kahale. "Fortunately we're in at least two areas that more than compensated."

Click here for The Am Law 100 - A Work In Progress, a chart tracking 2008 financials. 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.

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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