Boosted by a hot energy sector, Houston’s Bracewell & Giuliani improved its average profits per partner to $1.45 million in 2012—a 42.2 percent leap that was The Am Law 100′s largest PPP gain. Revenue per lawyer, meanwhile, rose 16.3 percent, to $750,000, The Am Law 100′s second-largest gain in that metric.

"We had an absolutely stellar year," says Mark Evans, the firm’s managing partner. "The real driver in everything is the revenue per lawyer. At the end of the day, when you are looking at the revenue increase and basically the same number of people, we were able on an individual basis to generate a big increase in revenue." The firm’s head count increased by 10, to 432 from 422, while gross revenue rose 19.7 percent, to $325 million. The increase in gross revenue boosted the firm out of the Second Hundred and back onto The Am Law 100, at number 92.

Evans says the firm’s top energy clients were "incredibly busy" in 2012. Energy-related M&A deal flow increased, although all areas of work for energy clients were going gangbusters. Evans notes that revenue from clients who typically provide more than $5 million in revenue annually increased by $50 million in 2012. "That should tell you something about the upgrade of our client mix," he says. Litigation, especially white-collar crime defense, was also strong, Evans says.

The firm’s major energy clients include Houston-based Kinder Morgan Inc. (which acquired El Paso Corp. in 2012), Houston-based ConocoPhillips Co., and Oklahoma City–based Chesapeake Energy Corp. The firm also benefited from the addition of a group of 27 public finance lawyers it picked up from crosstown competitor Vinson & Elkins in January 2012. The following May, a group of five energy lawyers from now-defunct Dewey & LeBoeuf joined Bracewell in New York, Washington, D.C., and Connecticut. Evans says that Bracewell pursued both groups because of personal relationships between lawyers at the firm and lawyers in the Vinson & Elkins and Dewey groups.