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Ten mergers since 2000 have kept Reed Smith’s firmwide managing partner, Greg Jordan, globe-hopping for 180 days each year, tending to a far-flung legal empire that caters to an equally global client base. “We thought we saw globalization accelerating, with major companies in key sectors becoming more global,” Jordon said. “We decided to embrace the trend, not lament and fight it.” Copying its corporate clients’ global ambitions has transformed Reed Smith from a regional Pittsburgh firm into a global powerhouse with 1,447 lawyers. It also pushed the firm into the top 10 of the NLJ 250, The National Law Journal‘s survey of the nation’s largest law firms. Just five years ago, the firm ranked No. 34, with 739 lawyers. Revenue jumped to $644 million in 2006 from $314 million in 2002, though the firm’s 2006 profits per partner of $940,000 lagged behind the most profitable firms. Still, profits per partner have nearly tripled since 2000′s take of $315,000, and the firm is continuing that upward trajectory, Jordan said. “The profitability improvement isn’t in spite of our growth, it’s driven by our growth,” Jordan said. “It’s allowed us to have a stronger firm doing more high-end work for stronger companies and leading companies.” Legal consultant Peter Zeughauser of the Zeughauser Group said Reed Smith deserves credit for making a very good start toward becoming a global powerhouse. The challenging part is capturing the profitable work in Asia, he said. “There’s a lot of price pressure in Asia in different ends of the market.” The merger train accelerated this year with three additions: Richards Butler in the United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, Greece and France; Sachnoff & Weaver in Chicago; and Richards Butler Hong Kong in China, a deal scheduled to close on Jan. 1, 2008. Reed Smith opened its doors in 1877 and still represents the legacy companies, universities and foundations of original clients such as Andrew Carnegie, H.J. Heinz and Andrew Mellon. It was jolted into change in 2000, when it watched other firms help its biggest clients move to Europe, Jordan said. Merging with London-based Warner Cranston in 2001 enabled the firm to help long-standing client Mellon Financial Corp. � which now is the Bank of New York Mellon Corp. � with its British expansion. Since then, Reed Smith has developed significant relationships with banking clients Bank of America Corp. and Wachovia Corp.; private equity companies such as the Blackstone Group; and pharmaceutical companies such as Eli Lilly and Co., Merck & Co. Inc., Pfizer Inc. and Wyeth. The firm has expanded those ties as it has grown. Overall, Reed Smith has tripled its business with its top 250 clients during the past four to five years to an expected $500 million this year, Jordan said. “Whichever city we’re in, I end up going to call on the same clients,” he said. Reed Smith, like Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Preston Gates Ellis, is one of a very small number of firms with a credible, three-continent platform, said K&L Gates Chairman and global managing partner Peter Kalis. “Even modest-sized companies these days compete in global markets,” Kalis said. “The question is whether their law firms are going to be there with them.” Reed Smith has taken steps to strengthen its service to global clients through an extensive Reed Smith University training program. The firm has a partnership with the Aresty Institute of Executive Education at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Additionally, its general counsel liaison visits clients to collect feedback. “To expand [the relationships] and improve the service, asking them how we’re doing is critical,” Jordan said. Such efforts have paid off, said consultant Michael B. Rynowecer, president of The BTI Consulting Group Inc. in Wellesley, Mass. During the past few years, Reed Smith has been in the top 20 of The BTI Client Service A-Team ranking of law firms, based on interviews with 250 corporate counsel, Rynowecer said. “If you go out and talk to the clients, they tend to embrace the merger and think more highly of you,” he said. With a global network in place, Reed Smith now wants to enhance its corporate, mergers-and-acquisitions and securities practices, and “anything to do with financial services and life sciences,” particularly in major commercial centers such as Hong Kong, London and New York, Jordan said. New York is a priority, since the firm has a mere 100 lawyers there compared with about 330 in London, Jordan said. It is one of a few firms with strong positions in the United States, Europe and Asia, and it plans to build on that, he said.

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