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March 8, 2010 4:01 PM

THE AM LAW 100: Weil Posts Flat Revenue; Slight Rise in Profits

Posted by D.M. Levine

Weil, Gotshal & Manges reported flat 2009 gross revenue and a modest uptick in profits per partner Monday. The results are slightly surprising given the firm's strong bankruptcy practice last year, but executive partner Barry Wolf said that other parts of the firm suffered from the economic downturn.

According to the firm, gross revenue rose just 0.18 percent, from $1,230,801,620 in 2008 to $1,233,054,282 in 2009. Head count rose 1.85 percent, from 1,190 to 1,212. But revenue per lawyer dropped by 1.64 percent, from $1,034,287 to $1,017,372, while profits per equity partner rose by 1.8 percent, from $2,273,802 to $2,314,723.

The results are surprisingly level given that Weil has handled some high-profile restructurings this past year--including the June 2009 Chapter 11 filing and subsequent reorganization of General Motors Corporation, and the ongoing Chapter 11 proceedings of Washington Mutual, Inc., and Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. (both of which filed for bankruptcy in September of 2008). Weil also did not engage in any high-profile layoffs this past year, though the firm did defer its 2009 and 2010 first-year associates by one year, respectively.

But according to Weil executive partner Wolf, gains in the firm's restructuring group last year were offset, to some degree, by pressures elsewhere, which account for the firm's relatively flat financials in 2009. Weil is a big firm "with diverse practice groups,” Wolf said. “And, while BFR [business finance & restructuring] is a phenomenal practice of ours and it drives a lot, it’s 100 lawyers out of 1,250, so we clearly feel the impact in certain of our other practices.” Wolf also points out that Weil hasn’t yet collected on some of the high-profile bankruptcy work for which the firm billed in 2009.

Nevertheless, Wolf says that, overall, Weil was satisfied with the firm’s performance in 2009, and considers the relative lack of a significant increase or decrease in revenue to be a good indicator of the firm's business model. "We don’t have the ups and downs that some of our competitors do," Wolf said. "So when we’re in a boom cycle we don’t necessarily have some of the spikes up that some of our competitors have. And in the bust cycle we don’t have the downs. . . . So in terms of [profits and revenues] not going up, that’s what we would expect.”

This report is part of The Am Law Daily's ongoing Web coverage of 2009 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 2010 issue and on AmericanLawyer.com. 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; the Second Hundred results are available here.

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