After seeing a dip in many key financial metrics between 2010 and 2011 driven by a number of investments, Blank Rome reaped the rewards in 2012 with significant jumps in billable hours, revenue and profits.
Blank Rome's gross revenue grew 6.3 percent from $309.5 million in 2011 to $329 million in 2012. The firm's revenue per lawyer (RPL) jumped nearly 7 percent from $655,000 to $700,000. On the profit side, profits per equity partner (PPP) soared 15.4 percent from $650,000 to $750,000 and the average compensation for all partners rose 19.4 percent from $490,000 to $585,000.
Blank Rome Chairman Alan J. Hoffman noted the firm was able to increase revenue while keeping total attorney headcount essentially flat at 471 lawyers. He said the firm's overall billable hours increased 4.7 percent and the average hours per attorney rose from 1,767 in 2011 to 1,804 in 2012.
Core practices such as litigation, real estate and financial services, particularly in the consumer financial services group, had a strong year in 2012, Hoffman said. So too did the environmental, family law and maritime practices. A few years ago, Blank Rome decided to invest in industry groups as well as practice areas and those are paying off, Hoffman said. He pointed to the financial services, chemical and maritime industries.
Much of the firm's revenue growth stemmed from existing clients of attorneys who joined the firm in 2011 and were able to provide those clients additional services in 2012 through their joining Blank Rome.
In 2011, Blank Rome acquired 10-attorney litigation boutique Abrams Scott & Bickley in Houston. Hoffman said that group has been able to cross-sell other Blank Rome services in 2012, bringing in more revenue for the firm. Blank Rome's maritime and chemical and energy practices have benefited from having the Houston office, he said. The consumer financial services practice brought on board in early 2011 also expanded significantly in 2012, Hoffman said.
In 2011, Blank Rome also added attorneys to its nearly four-year-old Los Angeles office, opened in Shanghai and added a four-person white-collar litigation team in Washington, D.C.
"When you open an office in California or in Asia or in Houston, it takes your partners that are in Philadelphia and [other existing locations] some time to really become familiar with the kinds of services that we can offer in other locations throughout the country," Hoffman said, noting those additions are expected to generate more revenue over time.
Blank Rome's overall attorney headcount fell by one lawyer to 471 attorneys in 2012. The equity partner tier increased by one lawyer to 140 equity partners and the nonequity partner tier decreased 10.7 percent from 121 nonequity partners to 108. Hoffman said the firm did not conduct any de-equitization or layoff program in 2011 or 2012 that would have accounted for the drop in nonequity partners. Hoffman said some nonequity partners left or became counsel.