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Archer & Greiner saw most financial metrics improve markedly in fiscal 2016, while the Haddonfield-based firm’s attorney head count appears to have levelled off.

Archer’s $91 million gross revenue was a 4.6 percent increase over the previous year’s $87 million.

Revenue has fluctuated somewhat. The firm posted $87 million in gross revenue in fiscal 2011, but with 25 more lawyers (203) than it had last year (178). Archer’s 2016 total is still $1 million shy of its total from fiscal 2013, when the firm posted $92 million—though, again, that was with more lawyers (194) than it has now.

“The world is round. The pendulum swings, and it swung nicely for us,” said managing partner Christopher Gibson in an interview. “I do think things are getting better.”

Profits per equity partner did more than swing—it increased 31.3 percent, year-over-year, to $545,000 from $415,000. Using last year’s data on New Jersey firms and offices as a reference, the $545,000 PPP figure puts Archer in the neighborhood of Connell Foley of Roseland ($491,000 PPP), Stark & Stark of Lawrenceville ($500,000) and the New Jersey office of Jackson Lewis ($554,000).

A decrease in equity partners—by 6.8 percent, to 55 from 59, due to retirements, according to Gibson—might partly explain the PPP gain. But, also, its profit margin improved five points, to 33 percent, while net income jumped 22.4 percent to $30 million from $24.5 million.

“In terms of profit, we had the very best year any of us can remember,” Gibson said.

He chalked up the improved profitability to cost cutting and changes in benefits—including a transition from an unfunded pension mandate to a profit-sharing plan. Health plan co-pays increased, too, he said.

“Things that were established in the 70s and 80s, when you were 40 or 50 lawyers, don’t fit,” Gibson said.

The firm, he said, is “still extraordinarily generous, but much more in line with corporate America.”

“We do provide health care for all employees, and we pay a huge amount for that. … A lot of these costs are above-the-line expenses,” which impacts Archer’s PPP metric, Gibson said.

Another factor fed into the gross revenue and profitability metrics—the firm earned more on a per lawyer basis. Its $510,000 revenue per lawyer (RPL) was a 4.1 percent improvement, from $490,000. In fiscal 2011, Archer’s RPL was $429,000, making a five-year growth rate of about 19 percent in RPL.

Gibson attributed the improved earnings to “a perfect storm, in a good way” and “bigger matters coming to roost”—some higher-end work for the M&A practice, a pickup in real estate transactions, and pipeline approvals in the energy space,

Attorney population at the firm, after cresting above the 200-mark in recent years, appears to have leveled off. The firm’s 178 total attorneys is the same as last year. Of firms based in New Jersey, Archer is among the largest by head count, on par with Gibbons P.C. of Newark.

Archer expanded into Red Bank and Hackensack in recent years. No dramatic growth plan exists, though Archer is shaking the bushes in New York City, and is in discussions with at least two potential suitors—roughly six-member groups in bankruptcy and bankruptcy-related practice, according to Gibson, who declined to identify them by name.

As for what fiscal 2017 will bring—with a Sept. 30 fiscal year-end, the firm is already well into it—Gibson said he won’t predict such financial gains going forward,

“I think that last year probably was a bit aberrational,” Gibson said. “But I continue to believe we’re in a period of modest growth in the law profession.”

“I think you probably should have modest expectations, and if you end up greatly exceeding expectations, be thankful,” he added. “I’m not banking on 4.5 percent growth in any way, shape or form.”

Contact the reporter at dgialanella@alm.com. On Twitter: @dgialanellanjlj.

Archer & Greiner saw most financial metrics improve markedly in fiscal 2016, while the Haddonfield-based firm’s attorney head count appears to have levelled off.

Archer’s $91 million gross revenue was a 4.6 percent increase over the previous year’s $87 million.

Revenue has fluctuated somewhat. The firm posted $87 million in gross revenue in fiscal 2011, but with 25 more lawyers (203) than it had last year (178). Archer’s 2016 total is still $1 million shy of its total from fiscal 2013, when the firm posted $92 million—though, again, that was with more lawyers (194) than it has now.

“The world is round. The pendulum swings, and it swung nicely for us,” said managing partner Christopher Gibson in an interview. “I do think things are getting better.”

Profits per equity partner did more than swing—it increased 31.3 percent, year-over-year, to $545,000 from $415,000. Using last year’s data on New Jersey firms and offices as a reference, the $545,000 PPP figure puts Archer in the neighborhood of Connell Foley of Roseland ($491,000 PPP), Stark & Stark of Lawrenceville ($500,000) and the New Jersey office of Jackson Lewis ($554,000).

A decrease in equity partners—by 6.8 percent, to 55 from 59, due to retirements, according to Gibson—might partly explain the PPP gain. But, also, its profit margin improved five points, to 33 percent, while net income jumped 22.4 percent to $30 million from $24.5 million.

“In terms of profit, we had the very best year any of us can remember,” Gibson said.

He chalked up the improved profitability to cost cutting and changes in benefits—including a transition from an unfunded pension mandate to a profit-sharing plan. Health plan co-pays increased, too, he said.

“Things that were established in the 70s and 80s, when you were 40 or 50 lawyers, don’t fit,” Gibson said.

The firm, he said, is “still extraordinarily generous, but much more in line with corporate America.”

“We do provide health care for all employees, and we pay a huge amount for that. … A lot of these costs are above-the-line expenses,” which impacts Archer’s PPP metric, Gibson said.

Another factor fed into the gross revenue and profitability metrics—the firm earned more on a per lawyer basis. Its $510,000 revenue per lawyer (RPL) was a 4.1 percent improvement, from $490,000. In fiscal 2011, Archer’s RPL was $429,000, making a five-year growth rate of about 19 percent in RPL.

Gibson attributed the improved earnings to “a perfect storm, in a good way” and “bigger matters coming to roost”—some higher-end work for the M&A practice, a pickup in real estate transactions, and pipeline approvals in the energy space,

Attorney population at the firm, after cresting above the 200-mark in recent years, appears to have leveled off. The firm’s 178 total attorneys is the same as last year. Of firms based in New Jersey, Archer is among the largest by head count, on par with Gibbons P.C. of Newark.

Archer expanded into Red Bank and Hackensack in recent years. No dramatic growth plan exists, though Archer is shaking the bushes in New York City, and is in discussions with at least two potential suitors—roughly six-member groups in bankruptcy and bankruptcy-related practice, according to Gibson, who declined to identify them by name.

As for what fiscal 2017 will bring—with a Sept. 30 fiscal year-end, the firm is already well into it—Gibson said he won’t predict such financial gains going forward,

“I think that last year probably was a bit aberrational,” Gibson said. “But I continue to believe we’re in a period of modest growth in the law profession.”

“I think you probably should have modest expectations, and if you end up greatly exceeding expectations, be thankful,” he added. “I’m not banking on 4.5 percent growth in any way, shape or form.”

Contact the reporter at dgialanella@alm.com. On Twitter: @dgialanellanjlj.