Polsinelli took in revenue of more than $475 million in 2017, surpassing its prior-year results by more than 8 percent, according to preliminary ALM reporting. Meanwhile, the firm’s profits per equity partner nudged up less than 1 percent as the firm continued to expand its roster of lawyers.
The $475.09 million that Polsinelli posted in gross revenue came alongside a net income of $89.8 million in 2017—a 6.8 percent increase over 2016. Revenue per lawyer at the 783-attorney firm came in at $607,000—4.8 percent higher than the prior year, while profits per partner were $701,000. The PPP figure constituted a 0.9 percent increase compared with 2016.
Overall, Polsinelli’s head count grew by 3.3 percent, bringing its total number of lawyers to 783 from 758 in 2016. Its partnership ranks also increased—the firm added 7 equity partners, bringing the total to 128, and 16 nonequity partners, bringing that total to 343. The equity partner count in 2017 was 5.8 percent larger than in the prior year, while the nonequity partnership increased 4.9 percent.
After adding offices in Boston, Houston and Silicon Valley in 2016—an expansion that was connected to a mass hire from the now-defunct intellectual property boutique Novak Druce Connolly Bove + Quigg—Polsinelli kept its geographic footprint steady in 2017. But, according to longtime Polsinelli chairman and CEO W. Russell Welsh, the firm did continue growing, adding lawyers to the new offices it picked up in 2016 and elsewhere.
“This was a year of filling in some offices with people in our key practice areas,” Welsh said. “It was a stable year all around. Business was pretty good.”
Welsh noted that the firm’s key practices were all busy throughout 2017, with the lone exception of its bankruptcy group, which was less active in light of a strong U.S. economy. There wasn’t one big litigation matter or deal that occupied a large number of lawyers at once, Welsh said, but the firm’s IP litigation team was busy with several cases.
Welsh added that the firm’s financial results in 2017 came against a backdrop of the firm adding new lawyers in areas such as intellectual property, health care, and real estate. He said integrating a large number of people takes time and that sometimes there is a delay in those lawyers’ contributions showing up in the firm’s bottom line.
“As you grow, it takes awhile to get people up to speed. So there’s a lag impact of both revenue and profits,” he said.
Still, Polsinelli experienced financial growth as well as an increase in its roster. And the firm has shown no sign of slowing down in its expansion efforts. Already in 2018, Polsinelli announced the addition of three venture capital lawyers in Denver and a health privacy specialist in Washington, D.C.
Another notable development in 2017 was the naming of Welsh’s successor as Polsinelli chairman and CEO—a position Welsh has held since 1998. In May, the firm announced that F. Chase Simmons, who has chaired Polsinelli’s real estate practice and real estate equity group, had been nominated to serve in the position of vice chairman and chair-elect at Polsinelli.
Welsh is scheduled to remain in his role at the top of the firm until the end of 2018. But he said that Polsinelli has already started preparing for the eventual leadership transition.