Jordan also communicates daily through the firm's intranet, posting a new thought, idea or concern each morning. While it is "certainly less personal" than having a private conversation with people, as would have been done "in the old days," it is much more effective than not having any contact at all, Jordan said.
Jordan said any firm that expands like Reed Smith has is going to face some grumbling from attorneys who don't agree with that plan.
Reed Smith has remained true to its Pittsburgh roots and has more lawyers in Pennsylvania than any other firm. That commitment to the state gives Reed Smith the ability to represent clients like BNY Mellon, PNC, GlaxoSmithKline, H.J. Heinz and U.S. Steel, Jordan said. But the firm's lawyers realize what it takes to represent those companies on an international basis, he said.
"I think for the most part people get over the sentimental side and are pretty able to come to grips with what the real-world options are," Jordan said. "For Reed Smith to have a major relationship with GE and Morgan Stanley, standing pat as a 400-lawyer firm principally in Pennsylvania, that wouldn't be easy to do. ... On balance, the expansion and the movement of the firm has given people a greater chance to fulfill their potential as practicing lawyers."
Kalis said he views managing more attorneys as simply an "arithmetical-driven challenge" as opposed to the exponential change that has resulted from technology, for example.
"It's always been the case that the vast majority of your partners have to be happy with the law firm," Kalis said. "It's just now that the numbers are bigger."
K&L Gates and Reed Smith have surpassed nearly all of the other Pennsylvania-based Am Law 200 firms when it comes to growth in headcount over the last decade and have far outpaced any of those firms when it comes to gross revenue growth in 10 years. K&L Gates grew its headcount 188.4 percent between 2002 and 2012 and saw revenue soar 276.4 percent, according to numbers tracked by Legal affiliate The American Lawyer. Reed Smith saw headcount rise 114.7 percent in that same timeframe and gross revenue rise 216 percent.
Reed Smith and K&L Gates have operated on a different expansion model from other large firms in Pennsylvania. Take Philadelphia-based Morgan, Lewis & Bockius as an example. The firm has fewer lawyers than either Reed Smith or K&L Gates and has rarely done large-scale mergers, choosing instead to pick up chunks of lawyers at a time. At around 1,300 lawyers, Morgan Lewis has higher gross revenue than the other two firms with $1.16 billion. (Reed Smith had $993 million in gross revenue in 2011 with 1,486 lawyers and K&L Gates brought in $1.06 billion with 1,762 attorneys.)
Morgan Lewis also has higher revenue per lawyer (RPL) and profits per equity partner (PPP) at $895,000 and $1.5 million, respectively. Reed Smith had $670,000 in RPL and $1.02 million in PPP in 2012. K&L Gates had RPL of $605,000 and PPP of $890,000.
Kalis has often said the firm's RPL is not a fair comparison to other firms because K&L Gates has lawyers practicing in multiple markets with lower hourly rates than those firms with the bulk of their lawyers in New York, for example.