(J. Albert Diaz)
Carlton Fields reported a modest increase in gross revenue in 2013, up 3 percent to $171 million.
Profits per partner were flat at $830,000, while non-equity compensation grew 9.2 percent with the firm’s appointment of 12 non-equity partners last year. Total lawyers dropped slightly to 272 from 276.
Tampa-based Carlton Fields will have drastically different financials next year since the firm merged with 80-lawyer Jorden Burt Jan. 1 to form Carlton Fields Jorden Burt. The merger gave Carlton offices in Washington and Connecticut and a premiere insurance and financial services practice.
Carlton president and CEO Gary Sasso said he was pleased with the 2013 results, noting that like other firms Carlton started the year off slowly but ended on a robust note. He attributed that in part to the volume of transactions squeezed into the fourth quarter of 2012 in anticipation of changing tax laws, resulting in an anemic first quarter in 2013.
“I think it’s a good year all things considered,” Sasso said. “If you look at national surveys, we go right with the pack. Last year was a pretty flat year for most businesses and most law firms. We had a good strong finish but a slow start.”
Sasso said he was not disappointed with the flat profits per partner since that number set a record in 2012. “Replicating record profits is a good thing, not a bad thing,” he said.
Carlton continued growing its new New York office in 2013 and added 1,000 new client relationships, Sasso said. The firm targeted national class action defense, financial services, banking, consumer finance, telecommunications, international corporate, construction and health care practices.
Carlton’s Miami office has now surpassed its Tampa headquarters in size with 125 attorneys in Miami and 100 in Tampa.
Kent Zimmerman, a law firm consultant with Zeughauser Group in Chicago, said the firm’s modest increase in gross revenue was not surprising,
“It’s consistent with the challenges that most firms around the country are seeing, having to grow gross revenues in an environment where supply and demand is uneven and there is extreme downward pricing pressure from clients that hasn’t let up much since the recession,” Zimmerman said.
Carlton’s merger with Jorden Burt also makes sense, he added.
“Many firms are coming to the conclusion that it’s increasingly difficult to grow gross revenues organically, and as a result the way to grow gross revenue is by considering combinations with other groups and adding laterals,” he said.