Dechert continued its push to increase profits per equity partner with another year of double-digit percentage growth in its gross revenue and partner profits.
The firm increased its profits per equity partner by 18.1 percent from $1.99 million in 2006 to $2.35 million in 2007, according to Legal Week, a sister publication of The Legal Intelligencer.
Dechert also grew its gross revenue by nearly 15 percent from $729 million in 2006 to $836 million in 2007.
The increases continued a three-year trend for the firm of double-digit percentage point jumps in profits and gross revenue. The increases, however, aren't quite as big as what they were in years past.
Although he said the firm was able to come through strong in 2007, Dechert Chairman Barton J. Winokur has pointed out that it was a difficult year for the legal industry as a whole.
"Last year was a difficult year for the industry, and I don't think we've seen how difficult through the numbers," Winokur said.
The "fiercely competitive" legal industry, he said, saw the largest cost increases he has ever seen, due in large part to salary and bonus increases. Salary increases were even more expensive in other markets like New York and California. New York saw "very big increases" in year-end bonuses, Winokur said.
Although he said Dechert was fortunate enough not to be affected by the economic downturn that hit in the summer of 2007, other firms may not be as willing as in years past to tout their results.
The legal industry has "been in a boom" time for the past five to six years, but the financial boom doesn't look like it will remain where it has been, he said. That will inevitably affect the business activity of law firms, he said.
"In general, law firms didn't do as well last year as they thought they were going to do," Winokur said.
He said the industry would start to see a "meaningfully smaller percentage" in profit increases.
He said Dechert had a "good year in context" with the national economic picture and did well because of a strong focus on its seven core practice areas and a balanced reach geographically.
Winokur said Dechert's international offices had the strongest year they have since opening. The balance in locations helped Dechert weather a slower economy domestically, Winokur said.
The firm was fortunate, Winokur said, to maintain a strong financial practice because of its very limited involvement in the subprime-lending arena. Instead, Dechert represented more of the principals who were buying distressed companies.