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February 14, 2012 3:57 PM

The Am Law 100, the Early Numbers: Holland & Knight Sees Profits Climb 11 Percent

Posted by Claire Zillman

Coupling a small bump in gross revenue with diligent cost-cutting efforts, Holland & Knight enjoyed a double-digit increase in profits per partner for the second straight year in 2011, according to The American Lawyer's reporting.

While the firm's gross revenue rose by 3 percent to $568 million in 2011, its average profits per equity partner jumped 11 percent to $890,000, as first reported by sibling publication the Daily Business Review. In 2010, the firm's profits per partner surged 15 percent.

One explanation for the healthy profit figure, according to managing partner Steven Sonberg, was a thorough approach to trimming expenses. 

"The starting point for increasing our profits was taking a hard look at the allocation of resources on the expense side and making sure dollars were being appropriately utilized," Sonberg says.

As an example, Sonberg cites Holland & Knight's move to take advantage of a soft real estate market by renegotiating some of its leases to secure more favorable lease terms. The firm reduced travel costs by holding meetings via the Web or videoconference, Sonberg says. In recent years, Holland & Knight also closely monitored its staff-to-attorney ratio, cutting some staffers and redeploying others to different positions, Sonberg says.  

Sonberg attributes the firm's revenue increase to the revival of practice areas that struggled during the recession, such as real estate. 

"This year we handled a lot of restructurings and repositionings of loan portfolios," Sonberg says. "We also did a lot of work in the housing area. Real estate leasing work didn’t drop off too badly during the recession, but it still grew a little bit last year."

An uptick in health care–related work and assignments originating in Latin America also contributed to the growth in revenue.

Holland & Knight's health care practice concentrates on four areas: corporate work, litigation, regulatory matters, and intellectual property. The firm's Latin American practice works with U.S., European, and Chinese companies interested in breaking into region's transportation, construction, telecommunications, mineral exploration, and natural resources markets.

Sonberg says Holland & Knight's presence in Florida, especially its 110-lawyer Miami office, puts it in a prime spot to snatch up this sort of work: "Miami just happens to be a hub for Latin American work to take place." (The firm has seven other Sunshine State offices.)

Holland & Knight's head count remained essentially flat last year, dipping to 908 from 910. Though a spokeswoman says the firm added 21 lateral partners in 2011, it saw a net gain of just one partner. 

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 updated as additional data is reported.  

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