Boosted by two major lateral-hire groups in 2012, Houston-based Bracewell & Giuliani improved its gross revenue by 19.7 percent in 2012 and its net income by 49.1 percent.

“We had an absolutely stellar year,” says Mark Evans, the firm’s managing partner.

He attributes the firm’s impressive financial performance in 2012 to increased revenue per lawyer. RPL hit an average of $750,000 in 2012, up 16.3 percent from $645,000 in 2011.

“The real driver in everything is the revenue per lawyer,” Evans says. “At the end of the day, when you are looking at the revenue increase and basically the same number of people, we were able on an individual basis to generate a big increase in revenue.”

Gross revenue for the firm was $325.0 million in 2012, compared to $271.5 the previous year, and net income was $127.5 million, up from $85.5 million in 2011.

The firm’s total lawyer count edged up only slightly in 2012, coming in at a full-time equivalent of 432 in 2012, compared to 422 in 2011.

Average profits per equity partner were $1,450,000 in 2012, up 42.2 percent from $1,020,000 in 2011.

In January 2012, a group of 27 public finance lawyers from Vinson & Elkins of Houston joined Bracewell.

In May, a group of energy lawyers from Dewey & LeBoeuf joined Bracewell in New York City, Washington, D.C. and Connecticut.

Bracewell was opportunistic and went after both groups because of personal relationships between lawyers at the firm and lawyers in the V&E and Dewey groups, Evans says.

Evans says the firm’s top energy industry clients were “incredibly busy” in 2012 and deal flow increased, although all areas of work for energy clients were going gangbusters. Evans says revenue from the firm’s clients who provide more than $5 million in revenue annually increased by $50 million in 2012.

“That should tell you something about the upgrade of our client mix,” he says.

Evans says major energy industry clients include Kinder Morgan Inc. of Houston, which acquired El Paso Corp. of Houston in 2012, ConocoPhillips Co. of Houston, and Chesapeake Energy Corp. of Oklahoma City.

Litigation, especially white-collar crime defense, was also very strong in 2012, Evans says, and the firm expanded in New York.

This report is part of Texas Lawyer‘s coverage of the 2012 financial results of the 25 highest-grossing Texas-based firms as part of the AmLaw 100 and Second Hundred reports. Texas Lawyer will publish its Annual Report on Firm Finance on April 29. The American Lawyer, a Texas Lawyer affiliate, will publish full results for the AmLaw 100 in May. The Am Law Second Hundred will be published in June.