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Morgan, Lewis & Bockius’ D.C. office recorded returns in 2002 that managing partner Michael Kelly is optimistic about, despite a lackluster appearance on paper. “We thought the numbers were quite good. We held steady,” Kelly says. The firm dropped two notches, from No. 7 to No. 9, in overall revenue on the list of top grossing law offices in the D.C. area. Kelly attributes the 12 percent dip in net income—from $51.4 million in 2001 to $45.8 million in 2002—to a one-time charge associated with a move to new offices at 1111 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W. The firm would not disclose the amount of the charge. Gross revenue fell by a slim margin in 2002, to $163 million from $164.4 million the previous year. Although the firm’s equity partnership ranks shrank slightly, profits per partner remained nearly flat at $732,000. Revenue per lawyer fell slightly to $550,000. Kelly says the declines don’t represent a significant loss for the D.C. office and that the firm “could just as easily have gone the other way.” The firm reaped the financial benefits in 2002 of 50 associate layoffs announced in October 2001. The firm didn’t make any additional associate cuts last year, according to Kelly. Morgan, Lewis D.C. lawyers, led by antitrust partners Willard Tom and Scott Stempel, represented the Pharmacia Corp. during Pfizer Inc.’s acquisition of the Swedish drug maker. Charles O’Connor, a partner in the firm’s D.C. labor and employment practice group, led the legal team on the front lines of the battle between dockworkers and shippers in California as counsel to the Pacific Maritime Association during last summer’s strike. In 2002, D.C. lawyers also helped to close client Diageo PLC’s $8 billion-plus purchase of Vivendi SA’s Seagram Spirits and Wine Business. Intellectual property and trademark partners Michael Clayton, Karen Butcher, and Nancy Rowe led a group of seven associates on the matter. An uptick in litigation and for the firm’s investment management practice group and what Kelly calls a “powerhouse” labor and employment department kept the firm humming. A merger on either coast isn’t out of the question, says Kelly, who is well aware that a soft economy has prompted some firms to go on the prowl for acquisition or merger opportunities. “This is the most sustained economic doldrums that I’ve seen in the 29 years I’ve been practicing law. We’re in a time when law firms are in great stress and some are under pressure to move to a place that is more stable financially,” says Kelly. “But we’re not looking to buy assets just to buy assets.”

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