Cooley, which exceeded the $1 billion revenue benchmark for the first time in 2017, has enjoyed another year of record financial results, as net income skyrocketed by nearly 24 percent.
Fueled by the strong economic climate last year, Cooley saw revenue surge to $1.23 billion, an increase of 14.4 percent from the $1.07 billion it reached in 2017. That translated into revenue per lawyer of $1.30 million, an increase of 8.5 percent.
And as net income grew to $535.6 million, profits per equity partner (PEP) rose 14.3 percent to $2.38 million.
“It was the best year in the history of the law firm, in terms of finance, brand and culture,” Cooley CEO Joseph Conroy said. “The revenue increase, which was better than we anticipated … was driven by a lot of balance—strong practices from both the litigation and the business side of the house.”
The firm saw a huge spike in its capital markets practice in 2018, Conroy said. Cooley attorneys advised on more than 175 public offerings last year and represented banks in about half of those offerings. In May, Cooley advised DocuSign on its $723.7 million initial public offering, which generated $1.8 million in legal fees and expense.
“One of the ways we measure our success is how integrated we are as a firm,” Conroy said. “I think we have seen both in business [and] litigation over the past year, so many of our large matters resulted from collaboration across offices.”
The Palo Alto-based firm kicked off 2019 by launching its first continental European office in Brussels, aiming to support clients’ needs amid the uncertainty surrounding Brexit in the U.K. The Brussels office is Cooley’s 14th, following the Beijing office it opened early last year.
Cooley already has a London presence, which the firm set up in 2015. According to Conroy, Cooley’s U.K. operations brought in $66.7 million revenue last year, a 16 percent increase from 2017.
And the firm’s international expansion appears poised to continue.
“I am 90 percent certain I’ll be adding another office in Asia over the course of the year as well,” Conroy added, but he did not disclose where exactly that office will be.
Cooley added a net 17 equity partners last year, increasing its equity partner head count by 8.6 percent from 2017. Cooley hired 16 lateral partners, contributing to that movement.
The firm’s total head count grew by 49, but the number of nonequity partners dropped by 4.1 percent to 94.
The firm’s lateral hires included partners in both the West Coast and East Coast offices, such as former Boies Schiller Flexner partner Philip Bowman in New York; former White & Case partner Kenneth Juster in Boston; Alexander “Xander” Lee, a former McDermott Will & Emery tax partner, in Los Angeles; former Fenwick & West partner Blake Martell in the Bay area; and David Segre, a longtime member of the corporate group at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, in San Francisco.
Cooley also added former Kirkland & Ellis corporate partner Henry Yin as a second partner in its Beijing office. However, the firm also saw 21 partners leave its ranks last year.
Looking ahead in 2019, Conroy said Cooley will continue to expand the practices that have been “growing and exploding.” These include the cybersecurity and privacy practice, other practices that intersect with technologies, such as insurance tech and education tech, and the white-collar practice on the litigation side, he added.