Debevoise & Plimpton
(Rick Kopstein)

After three straight years of steady financial growth, Debevoise & Plimpton saw its fortunes turn in 2016.

Debevoise, which recently brought back former partner and litigation leader Mary Jo White, watched its gross revenue dip 2.9 percent last year, to $735 million.

Head count at the firm remained mostly steady, at 613, as the number of equity partners remained unchanged at 134. Debevoise’s profits per partner dropped 8.2 percent, to $2.41 million, while revenue per lawyer slipped 2.4 percent, to $1.2 million.

Debevoise presiding partner Michael Blair, who assumed leadership of the New York-based firm in 2011, attributed the declines to a moderate pullback in the U.S. transactional market last year following a record-setting year in 2015.

“In 2015, we had a really strong revenue [growth] and double-digit profit improvement that was driven by strong performance across most of the firm, [but] the strongest performers were the U.S. deal practices,” Blair said. “They didn’t have a bad year last year, but they were off their peak a little bit.”

The firm’s corporate group picked up a key role advising an independent committee of the board of directors at Monsanto AG on the Swiss agribusiness giant’s proposed $66 billion sale to Bayer AG, a mega-deal that still awaits regulatory approval.

Debevoise saw strong performances in 2016 from its white-collar defense, banking and health care practices, Blair said.

The firm’s health care group picked up key roles advising Envision Healthcare Holdings Inc. on its $15 billion buy of surgery center company AmSurg Corp., as well as Allergan plc on its $2.9 billion all-cash acquisition of regenerative medicine company LifeCell Corp. Debevoise also counseled Johnson & Johnson on its purchase of the global rights to Rhinocort Aqua nasal spray and private equity firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice LLC on its $750 million acquisition of a controlling stake in wheelchair maker Drive DeVilbiss Healthcare.

“I think we really established ourselves in the health care industry representing some of the blue chip leaders in that industry,” Blair said. “Five years ago you wouldn’t have seen that.”

On the litigation front, Debevoise is representing J. Michael Pearson, a former CEO at embattled Canadian drug giant Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc., in congressional hearings and investigations by the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. (Blank Rome is representing Pearson in a suit he filed this week against Valeant.)

The firm also represented FanDuel in connection with false advertising suits brought against the daily fantasy sports provider by New York’s attorney general. The firm also represented the City of New York in connection with federal and local inquiries into Mayor Bill de Blasio’s campaign financing practices, although Debevoise’s ability to be paid on its $850 per hour rate in that matter is reportedly in flux.

On the lateral hiring front, 2016 saw some familiar names return to the firm.

White, who headed Debevoise’s litigation department for a decade before joining the Obama administration as head of the SEC in early 2013, returned to the firm last month as senior chair. Andrew Ceresney, another former litigation partner at Debevoise who served as director of enforcement at the SEC, re-joined the firm earlier this year as litigation co-chair. (While working at Debevoise in 2007, Ceresney and White took a searing deposition of President Donald Trump.) Debevoise also welcomed back litigator Catherine Amirfar, who spent the past two years as chief litigator at the U.S. Department of State, as an international dispute resolution partner and co-chair of its public international law group in New York.

Luke Dembosky, a former deputy assistant attorney general in the Justice Department’s national security division, joined Debevoise in early 2016 as a partner in the firm’s cybersecurity and data privacy practice in Washington, D.C. Debevoise also recruited Julie Riewe, a former co-chief of the asset management unit in the SEC’s division of enforcement, as a white-collar and regulatory defense partner in the nation’s capital.

Debevoise again dipped into the lateral market again earlier this week by hiring former Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson technology transaction head Henry Lebowitz as a corporate and IP partner in New York. In January, Debevoise picked up Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton broker-dealer and securities partner David Aman as counsel for its financial institutions group in New York.

Copyright The American Lawyer. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

After three straight years of steady financial growth, Debevoise & Plimpton saw its fortunes turn in 2016.

Debevoise, which recently brought back former partner and litigation leader Mary Jo White, watched its gross revenue dip 2.9 percent last year, to $735 million.

Head count at the firm remained mostly steady, at 613, as the number of equity partners remained unchanged at 134. Debevoise’s profits per partner dropped 8.2 percent, to $2.41 million, while revenue per lawyer slipped 2.4 percent, to $1.2 million.

Debevoise presiding partner Michael Blair, who assumed leadership of the New York-based firm in 2011, attributed the declines to a moderate pullback in the U.S. transactional market last year following a record-setting year in 2015.

“In 2015, we had a really strong revenue [growth] and double-digit profit improvement that was driven by strong performance across most of the firm, [but] the strongest performers were the U.S. deal practices,” Blair said. “They didn’t have a bad year last year, but they were off their peak a little bit.”

The firm’s corporate group picked up a key role advising an independent committee of the board of directors at Monsanto AG on the Swiss agribusiness giant’s proposed $66 billion sale to Bayer AG , a mega-deal that still awaits regulatory approval.

Debevoise saw strong performances in 2016 from its white-collar defense, banking and health care practices, Blair said.

The firm’s health care group picked up key roles advising Envision Healthcare Holdings Inc. on its $15 billion buy of surgery center company AmSurg Corp., as well as Allergan plc on its $2.9 billion all-cash acquisition of regenerative medicine company LifeCell Corp. Debevoise also counseled Johnson & Johnson on its purchase of the global rights to Rhinocort Aqua nasal spray and private equity firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice LLC on its $750 million acquisition of a controlling stake in wheelchair maker Drive DeVilbiss Healthcare.

“I think we really established ourselves in the health care industry representing some of the blue chip leaders in that industry,” Blair said. “Five years ago you wouldn’t have seen that.”

On the litigation front, Debevoise is representing J. Michael Pearson, a former CEO at embattled Canadian drug giant Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. , in congressional hearings and investigations by the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. ( Blank Rome is representing Pearson in a suit he filed this week against Valeant.)

The firm also represented FanDuel in connection with false advertising suits brought against the daily fantasy sports provider by New York ’s attorney general. The firm also represented the City of New York in connection with federal and local inquiries into Mayor Bill de Blasio’s campaign financing practices, although Debevoise’s ability to be paid on its $850 per hour rate in that matter is reportedly in flux.

On the lateral hiring front, 2016 saw some familiar names return to the firm.

White, who headed Debevoise’s litigation department for a decade before joining the Obama administration as head of the SEC in early 2013, returned to the firm last month as senior chair. Andrew Ceresney, another former litigation partner at Debevoise who served as director of enforcement at the SEC, re-joined the firm earlier this year as litigation co-chair. (While working at Debevoise in 2007, Ceresney and White took a searing deposition of President Donald Trump.) Debevoise also welcomed back litigator Catherine Amirfar, who spent the past two years as chief litigator at the U.S. Department of State, as an international dispute resolution partner and co-chair of its public international law group in New York .

Luke Dembosky, a former deputy assistant attorney general in the Justice Department’s national security division, joined Debevoise in early 2016 as a partner in the firm’s cybersecurity and data privacy practice in Washington, D.C. Debevoise also recruited Julie Riewe, a former co-chief of the asset management unit in the SEC’s division of enforcement, as a white-collar and regulatory defense partner in the nation’s capital.

Debevoise again dipped into the lateral market again earlier this week by hiring former Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson technology transaction head Henry Lebowitz as a corporate and IP partner in New York . In January, Debevoise picked up Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton broker-dealer and securities partner David Aman as counsel for its financial institutions group in New York .

Copyright The American Lawyer. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.