Fueled by strong demand in litigation, M&A and capital markets, and regulatory work, Davis Polk & Wardwell saw its profits per partner surge 22.5 percent last year, to $2.94 million—The Am Law 100′s second-largest increase in that metric.
Among the areas that chairman and managing partner Thomas Reid says were especially busy were enforcement and white-collar defense, leveraged finance, and financial institution regulatory work.
Gross revenue rose a more modest 5.4 percent, while revenue per lawyer increased 2.6 percent, to $1.2 million. “The growth in revenue was entirely driven by gains in market share and was not rate-driven,” Reid says.
Ten partners retired from the firm in 2013, but Reid says those losses were largely offset by a batch of lateral hires. They included former Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz and former U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride of the Eastern District of Virginia. The firm also brought on Brian Lichter, a real estate partner previously with Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson; Monica Holland, a corporate finance specialist who had been at Shearman & Sterling; and Nick Benham, a finance lawyer from Ashurst. The firm also promoted three partners from within.
Among last year’s highlights for Davis Polk’s corporate group were its representation of H.J. Heinz in its $28 billion acquisition by Berkshire Hathaway and 3G Capital; Comcast Corporation in its acquisition of General Electric Company’s $16.7 billion stake in NBCUniversal Media; and generic drug maker Warner Chilcott in its $8.5 billion acquisition by rival Activis. The firm also represented the underwriters in the $1.8 billion initial public offering of Twitter Inc.
Davis Polk’s credit, leveraged finance and restructuring lawyers advised Lehman Brothers International Europe in a multibillion-dollar settlement with Lehman Brothers Inc. In addition, it represented Patriot Coal Corporation in its Chapter 11 filing and Pinnacle Airlines Corp. in a bankruptcy liquidation.
As for Davis Polk’s litigators, Reid says they “could not have been busier.” Litigation engagements in 2013 included representing Bank of America Corporation in the massive consolidated LIBOR antitrust litigation. Davis Polk also served as the court-appointed liaison counsel for all the bank defendants in the matter. The firm won a bankruptcy litigation trial victory in May on behalf of client Patriot Coal in a dispute with the United Mine Workers of America, and has been representing Proskauer Rose in a $7 billion class action claim filed by victims of convicted Ponzi artist R. Allen Stanford.