Perkins Coie posted record gross revenue and net income in 2017, while profits per equity partner remained flat at $1.173 million and revenue per lawyer dipped by less than 2 percent, according to preliminary ALM reporting.
The firm’s gross revenue came in just shy of $786 million in 2017, less than 1 percent higher than the prior year’s results. Perkins Coie’s net income in 2017 grew 1.4 percent over the prior year to $149.36 million. Those increases, while modest, bring both of the figures to their highest-ever level, said Perkins Coie managing partner John Devaney.
The firm’s profits per equity partner fell less than half-a-percent, from $1.178 million in 2016 to the 2017 figure of $1.173 million. Revenue per lawyer dropped 1.8 percent in 2017 to $833,000. Perkins Coie’s head count grew in 2017 to 944 lawyers, up 2.5 percent from 921 lawyers in 2016, while the firm added four partners overall—three of them boosting the equity partnership headcount.
The managing partner also noted that one of the firm’s large, recent litigation matters—a trade secrets dispute in which the firm represented Zillow Inc. against rival real estate website Move Inc.—settled midway through 2016 on the eve of a trial. With the end of that case, which was “keeping several dozen lawyers busy, full-time,” Devaney said Perkins Coie’s litigation group spent much of the first quarter in 2017 refilling a pipeline of work.
As the year went on, the firm picked up steam and the early signs for 2018 are good, said Devaney, who explained that, among other areas, he expects Perkins Coie’s political law team to be highly active as the midterm election season ramps up in the United States.
“We finished on a very strong note in the fourth quarter,” he said.
Devaney highlighted several litigation matters that kept Perkins Coie’s lawyers busy in 2017, including three cases that went to the U.S. Supreme Court. Two of those were voter redistricting cases alleging racial gerrymandering—one arising out of the districts drawn for Virginia’s state General Assembly and another arising out of the U.S. congressional districts in North Carolina—while a third dealt with sovereign immunity questions involving Native American tribes.
The firm also picked up a significant role in an internal investigation of sexual harassment and misconduct allegations at Uber Inc. In that matter, Perkins Coie’s investigation ran parallel to one led by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Jr., now a Covington & Burling partner, who looked at Uber’s corporate culture as a whole.
On the transactional front, Devaney said, “We represented Amazon in more than 25 investments in startup companies.” He pointed, specifically, to advising the online retail giant in connection with an investment in GRAIL Inc., a life sciences company focused on early detection of cancer.
Beyond its litigation, investigations and transactional work, Devaney said the firm has also taken steps to strengthen ties with top clients, including several in the technology sector, by having some of the firm’s nonlawyer staff consult with the clients’ law departments on a range of “operational” issues. Those efforts, he said, have involved people such as Perkins Coie’s diversity chief, a legal pricing expert the firm has on staff, and the firm’s information technology chief, who can advise law departments on billing systems and other areas.
“Our nonlawyer staff regularly visit with the law departments of our top clients … to assist them with their operational efficiency,” Devaney said. “It’s something where we’re seeing a lot of demand.”