(Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/ALM)

Polsinelli saw solid revenue growth in 2016, but its profits per equity partner dropped more than 4 percent as a result of the Kansas City-based firm’s mass hire early in the year of 44 lawyers from intellectual property boutique Novak Druce Connolly Bove & Quigg.

With its overall lawyer count growing to 758 in 2016, a 5.3 percent increase over its 2015 head count, Polsinelli also saw its partnership expand by 7.4 percent as the firm added 28 nonequity partners and 3 equity partners. The expansion of its roster of lawyers came as Polsinelli posted mixed financial results in 2016.

On the plus side, the firm’s gross revenue was up to $439 million, a 7.1 percent increase compared with 2015, and revenue per lawyer rose 1.8 percent to $580,000 in 2016. But Polsinelli saw a drop in partner profits. They fell 4.1 percent to $695,000 after the firm posted profits per partner of $725,000 in 2015. The firm’s net income also dropped in 2016 by 1.8 percent to $84 million, while average compensation for all partners fell 3.3 percent to $435,000.

Polsinelli chairman and CEO W. Russell Welsh said the mixed financial results could be seen as a product of the firm’s rapid expansion in the IP realm and other areas.


Polsinelli’s Russell Welsh.

He likened 2016 to the year that Polsinelli had in 2014, when the firm reported revenue growth of more than 13 percent while partner profits dipped. Those 2014 numbers were followed by solid financial results across the board in 2015. Welsh said that he expects that the investments Polsinelli made in 2016 will position the firm well for the future.

“For our firm, 2016 was a year of continued growth particularly in IP … with the addition of 44 lawyers [from Novak Druce],” he said. “We see that as a foundation for the kind of success we had in 2015.”

At the time of the Novak Druce announcement in March 2016, Welsh told The American Lawyer that the hire fit with Polsinelli’s goal of becoming a firm with a truly premier IP practice. Welsh reiterated that belief while discussing Polsinelli’s 2016 results, saying that the Novak Druce team brought expertise in technology and software that complemented Polsinelli’s existing IP group of about 60 lawyers, which had more of a life sciences and biotechnology focus.

Along with the lawyers that came over from Novak Druce, Polsinelli picked up three new offices—in Boston, Houston and Silicon Valley. All three have been a boon for the IP group and other practices, Welsh said.

One of the firm’s notable representations in 2016 served as a vehicle for IP lawyers to join forces with Polsinelli’s M&A lawyers, said Welsh. The firm advised EyeVerify Inc., a biometric scanning startup from Polsinelli’s home base of Kansas City, in a reported $100 million sale to Ant Financial, a payments affiliate of Chinese online retail giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.

Outside of IP, Welsh said the firm’s real estate group, which is spread across several offices and handles a wide range of work, including commercial real estate development, fund work, transactions and lending, was a standout in 2016.

“That practice grew in a meaningful way and just had a lot of traction that’s continuing into 2017,” he said.

Going forward, Welsh said he would expect Polsinelli to continue looking to grow in most of its major markets and building out its existing offices, as opposed to entering a new regional market or city. And while he doesn’t anticipate the firm will expand at the same pace in 2017, Welsh also said he’s held similar expectations in the past, only to be proved wrong.

“I don’t think we’re going to grow as fast as we did last year,” he said, “but it always turns out that we do.”

Contact Scott Flaherty at sflaherty@alm.com. On Twitter: @sflaherty18.

Polsinelli saw solid revenue growth in 2016, but its profits per equity partner dropped more than 4 percent as a result of the Kansas City-based firm’s mass hire early in the year of 44 lawyers from intellectual property boutique Novak Druce Connolly Bove & Quigg.

With its overall lawyer count growing to 758 in 2016, a 5.3 percent increase over its 2015 head count, Polsinelli also saw its partnership expand by 7.4 percent as the firm added 28 nonequity partners and 3 equity partners. The expansion of its roster of lawyers came as Polsinelli posted mixed financial results in 2016.

On the plus side, the firm’s gross revenue was up to $439 million, a 7.1 percent increase compared with 2015, and revenue per lawyer rose 1.8 percent to $580,000 in 2016. But Polsinelli saw a drop in partner profits. They fell 4.1 percent to $695,000 after the firm posted profits per partner of $725,000 in 2015. The firm’s net income also dropped in 2016 by 1.8 percent to $84 million, while average compensation for all partners fell 3.3 percent to $435,000.

Polsinelli chairman and CEO W. Russell Welsh said the mixed financial results could be seen as a product of the firm’s rapid expansion in the IP realm and other areas.


Polsinelli ‘s Russell Welsh.

He likened 2016 to the year that Polsinelli had in 2014, when the firm reported revenue growth of more than 13 percent while partner profits dipped. Those 2014 numbers were followed by solid financial results across the board in 2015. Welsh said that he expects that the investments Polsinelli made in 2016 will position the firm well for the future.

“For our firm, 2016 was a year of continued growth particularly in IP … with the addition of 44 lawyers [from Novak Druce ],” he said. “We see that as a foundation for the kind of success we had in 2015.”

At the time of the Novak Druce announcement in March 2016, Welsh told The American Lawyer that the hire fit with Polsinelli ‘s goal of becoming a firm with a truly premier IP practice. Welsh reiterated that belief while discussing Polsinelli ‘s 2016 results, saying that the Novak Druce team brought expertise in technology and software that complemented Polsinelli ‘s existing IP group of about 60 lawyers, which had more of a life sciences and biotechnology focus.

Along with the lawyers that came over from Novak Druce , Polsinelli picked up three new offices—in Boston, Houston and Silicon Valley. All three have been a boon for the IP group and other practices, Welsh said.

One of the firm’s notable representations in 2016 served as a vehicle for IP lawyers to join forces with Polsinelli ‘s M&A lawyers, said Welsh. The firm advised EyeVerify Inc., a biometric scanning startup from Polsinelli ‘s home base of Kansas City, in a reported $100 million sale to Ant Financial, a payments affiliate of Chinese online retail giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.

Outside of IP, Welsh said the firm’s real estate group, which is spread across several offices and handles a wide range of work, including commercial real estate development, fund work, transactions and lending, was a standout in 2016.

“That practice grew in a meaningful way and just had a lot of traction that’s continuing into 2017,” he said.

Going forward, Welsh said he would expect Polsinelli to continue looking to grow in most of its major markets and building out its existing offices, as opposed to entering a new regional market or city. And while he doesn’t anticipate the firm will expand at the same pace in 2017, Welsh also said he’s held similar expectations in the past, only to be proved wrong.

“I don’t think we’re going to grow as fast as we did last year,” he said, “but it always turns out that we do.”

Contact Scott Flaherty at sflaherty@alm.com. On Twitter: @sflaherty18.