The Score

February 6, 2012 8:34 PM

The Am Law 100, the Early Numbers: Paul, Weiss Reaches Firm Highs in Revenue, Profits

Posted by David Bario

By any measure, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison had a good year in 2011. A record-setting year, in fact.

Thanks to a continuing crush of litigation involving key clients in the financial services industry and a record year for the firm's transactional practice, the firm's gross revenue rose 3.9 percent to $780 million last year. Despite the addition of five new partners, profits per equity partner rose as well, albeit a modest 1.5 percent, to roughly $3.1 million. Revenue per lawyer remained flat at $1.06 million even though the firm added 28 lawyers to bring its total attorney head count of 737.

"We were very fortunate in 2011 to have the highest revenues and profits in our firm's history, driven by record litigation and transactional activity" says chairman Brad Karp.

But Karp says the raw numbers tell only part of the story of the firm's success last year. In 2010, Paul, Weiss earned a whopping $97 million contingency fee stemming from an Alaska pension agency's $500 million negligence settlement with a Marsh & McClennan unit. Subtracting that unusual element from the 2010 results, Karp says, would give Paul, Weiss an eye-popping 19 percent jump in gross revenue for 2011.

Paul, Weiss handled more multibillion-dollar litigations and transactions in 2011 than at any previous point in its history, according to Karp. The firm prevailed in five major jury trials and arbitrations for key clients, including its victory for Citigroup in a $7.5 billion arbitration brought by the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority.

"We are fortunate to be counsel of choice to some of the world's leading financial institutions in their most challenging litigations and regulatory matters," Karp says.

On the transactional side, the firm handled "more than a dozen" multibillion-dollar M&A transactions in 2011, according to Karp. Among notable laterals on the M&A side, Paul, Weiss scooped up O'Melveny & Myers's Gregory Ezring, the former cochair of the firm's corporate finance/capital markets practice, and six other O'Melveny partners in May. Paul, Weiss's private equity practice, meanwhile, is "extremely active right now," Karp says.

And this year could see new records set, to hear Karp tell it. "Our inventory at year-end is more than 15 percent ahead of where we were entering 2011," he says. "We will continue to be opportunistic in adding exceptional lateral partners to enhance our practice strengths, and we're fortunate that interest in Paul, Weiss is so high."

This report is part of The Am Law Daily's ongoing Web coverage of 2011 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 2012 issue and on The Am Law Second Hundred will be published in the June issue.

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