The Score

January 29, 2010 8:40 AM

THE AM LAW 100: Profits, Revenue Drop at Quinn Emanuel

Posted by Alison Frankel

In 2008 Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges had the third-highest profits per partner in The Am Law 100, sending partners home with an average $3.3 million. Profits per partner in 2009 dropped 6 percent from those lofty heights, but the firm's 77 equity partners still averaged $3.1 million. Revenue at the firm declined five percent, from $442 million to $420 million. With a flat head count, Quinn saw a matching drop in revenue per lawyer, from $1.1 million to $1 million.

Name partner William Urquhart attributes the declines to a slow first quarter. After an extremely busy final half of 2008, in which the firm was involved in several trials at the same time, Quinn Emanuel saw its billable hours abruptly drop as significant cases--including Nokia's global dispute with Qualcomm--settled or otherwise concluded. "A lot of people, all at the same time, became not so busy," Urquhart says. "It was just the particular mix of matters, the stage things were at."

The workload, he says, began to pick up again in the second quarter of the year. "We got busier and busier," Urquhart says, "In the last half of the year we were as busy as we've ever been in our history."

The firm's marquee intellectual property practice, which took top honors in The American Lawyer's IP Department of the Year contest, brought in high-profile laterals from Latham & Watkins and Kirkland & Ellis. Quinn Emanuel also began to benefit from its freedom to represent financial institutions suing other financial institutions. (Firms with large corporate practices are typically conflicted out of such cases.) After a ten-lawyer group in New York invested hundreds of hours in learning about structured finance transactions, for example, it filed a major case for the bond insurer MBIA against Countrywide.

Urquhart says that the firm held off on lateral hiring of associates during the first half of 2009, and reduced the ranks of contract lawyers. "We were nervous about the economy--what the effect would be," he says.

But now, he adds, Quinn Emanuel is hiring again. "Things are looking as rosy as they could possibly look," Urquhart says.

This report is part of The Am Law Daily's ongoing Web coverage of The Am Law 100’s 2009 financials. Results are preliminary. Final rankings and full results for The Am Law 100 will be published in The American Lawyer's May 2010 issue and on The Am Law Second Hundred will be published in the June issue.

The final published results of last year's Am Law 100 rankings are available here.

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