Last year was a year of steady work and few surprises for Troutman Sanders. Revenue dropped slightly in 2012, and profit per partner dropped slightly more.

"2012 was a lower revenue year, but it’s fair to say it was in line with our expectations," said Stephen E. Lewis, the firm’s managing partner.

"We would have loved for it to look like 2011, but we knew it wasn’t a practical expectation," he said. "There were two things we knew going into the year and one we were worried about."

Lewis said a couple of large contingency fee cases boosted 2011 revenue, but as 2012 began, "we knew the pipeline wasn’t ripe for any of those to hit big—so we knew we were going to be off on contingency fees up-front."

In the spring and summer, he said, there were lulls in the action for several large litigation matters.

"Neither was troubling—we just knew the revenue was going to be less," Lewis said.

He added that the worry was what would happen on the transactional side, explaining that 2011 had been a "good rebound year" after the recession, but in 2012 uncertainty over the presidential election and the so-called fiscal cliff slowed down deal flow in summer and early fall.

Deals picked up in November and December, he said. The firm’s biggest deal of the year was announced Dec. 19. Troutman is representing cable equipment maker Arris Group in its $2.35 billion cash-and-stock acquisition of Motorola Mobility’s Home unit from Google in a transaction expected to close in the second quarter of 2013. (Arris announced Feb. 11 that the Department of Justice has requested more information about the purchase of the Motorola unit, which makes set-top boxes, as part of its antitrust review of the transaction.)

Investment in lateral partners

Troutman increased lateral hiring last year, adding 12 new partners compared with only four in 2011.

Even with the lateral hires, the firm’s partner headcount was flat, going from 271 to 272. The number of equity partners increased by two, to 190.

The firm’s total head count shrank by 22 lawyers from 2011, for a total of 575 at the end of 2012. That caused revenue per lawyer to increase by $10,000, to $655,000, despite the $10 million revenue shrinkage.

The firm opened a Beijing office in June—its third in China—with five attorneys from Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe led by partner Allen Shyu.

Lewis called China a significant investment area for the firm. "It’s a point of differentiation for us," he said, explaining that having three China offices is rare for a Southeastern firm. Troutman also has offices in Shanghai and Hong Kong, with 35 total lawyers in China.

Troutman hired several key laterals in New York, Washington and Southern California. That included a six-lawyer intellectual property group in New York from McDermott Will & Emery with partners Joseph Robinson, Robert Schaffer and Louis DelJuidice.

Two New York real estate partners, Miles Borden and Mitchel Hill, decamped for Seyfarth Shaw.

Troutman added four lateral partners in Washington, including Jonathan Constine, who handles directors and officers insurance coverage, from Hogan Lovells and former Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff.

A team of international trade lawyers left Troutman’s Washington office for Morris, Manning & Martin in January 2012, including partners Donald Cameron Jr., Julie Mendoza, R. Will Planert and Brady Mills.

In Orange County, Troutman hired five lawyers from Rutan & Tucker, including three partners–corporate and securities lawyers Larry Cerutti and John Bradley and intellectual property lawyer Susan Barricella–to augment the 31-lawyer office’s litigation practice.

There were no significant lateral hires or departures from the Atlanta office last year—and of the 13 attorneys promoted to partner for 2013, none were from Atlanta.

J. David Dantzler Jr., an Atlanta partner who led the securities litigation and critical matters practices, relocated to New York to succeed Aurora Cassirer as that office’s managing partner. Cassirer was part of the about 90-lawyer group from now-defunct Jenkens & Gilchrist who joined Troutman in 2005 to give it a New York branch.

Lewis predicted even more investment in lateral partners this year and said the firm was "actively looking and talking to people" for its offices in Atlanta, Richmond and Chicago.

"We’re pretty bullish on 2013," he said.