The Akerman law firm reported a third straight year of record growth Thursday, but its managers aren’t taking anything for granted.
In New York, where that growth has been especially dramatic—from 38 to nearly 60 lawyers in a year—there’s a new mayor on the horizon.
“Our clients will undoubtedly be impacted, and we’re sitting down now as we always do to start thinking ahead about what they’re going to be valuing and needing to call on us for in the years ahead,” said Andrew Smulian, chairman and CEO of the newly renamed firm, previously Akerman Senterfitt.
The firm announced $297.5 million in gross revenue and $109.3 million in net income for the 2013 fiscal year ended Oct. 31.
That works out to an increase of 4.2 percent in gross revenue and 5.6 percent in net income over the previous fiscal year. The Am Law 200 survey ranked Akerman 108th in 2012 with gross revenue of $285.5 million and net income of $103.5 million.
Results over the past few years represent a recovery from 2008 when Akerman, like many other large firms, suffered from turnover and budget woes that translated to pay cuts for non-equity partners.
After the turnaround, Smulian credited in part good lateral hiring. He cited recruiting as one aspect of this year’s success, allowing the firm to diversify its services while continuing to focus on its four core practice areas—middle-market mergers and acquisitions, real estate, financial services and Latin America, which includes dealmaking and dispute resolution.
As an example of diversified services, he noted this year’s acquisition of an alcohol beverage practice group from GrayRobinson in Miami. Robert Lewis heads the group which includes Marbet Lewis, Valerie Haber, two licensing specialists and a legal assistant.
The group works with real estate clients who do build-outs of restaurant space, Smulian said. “The addition is a diversification because it covers some territory where our clients needed some resources.”
Smulian didn’t make the connection, but one marquee Akerman client that probably needs such services is Swire Properties, developer of the $1 billion Brickell CitiCentre in downtown Miami.
For its New York office, Akerman brought in these laterals this year: Steven D. Bloom (real estate) from Bryan Cave; Darren Traub (litigation) from Herrick Feinstein; and Alejandro Garcia-Villalpando (international tax) from Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle.
Also hired was a team of labor and employment lawyers from Jackson Lewis, including Matthew Steinberg and Samantha Abeysekera, and a team of professional negligence defense litigators from Kavanagh Maloney & Osnato, including David Bayne, Jim Maloney and Steven Cordero.
“Their growth pattern has been very smart,” said Amy Levin, CEO of the Legal Group in Fort Lauderdale. “They’re growing in a fashion that is patient, very carefully and taking their time about finding the right people. They’re not going to take on attorneys just to take them on; they’re very specific about what they need.”
Levin has a long history with Akerman. She was a paralegal there in the early 1990s, and today she helps with recruiting. “They take attorneys who are established, who have valuable books of business that are stable and competitive,” she said.