Shook, Hardy & Bacon posted positive financial results in 2017, including revenue of more than $350 million and partner profits nearing $1 million, as the firm’s overall head count ticked down, according to preliminary ALM data.
Shook Hardy, often known for its primacy in products liability litigation, had gross revenue of $350.7 million in 2017, a 5 percent increase over its prior year results. The firm also posted net income of $118.34 million, an 8.3 percent rise compared with 2016.
Profits per equity partner were also up, rising 15.1 percent to $931,000 in 2017, as was revenue per lawyer, which grew 6.8 percent and came in at $751,000. The financial results accompanied a slight contraction in the firm’s lawyer count—Shook Hardy had 467 lawyers in 2017, down 1.7 percent from the 475 lawyers on the roster in 2016. Meanwhile, the firm in 2017 experienced a 5.9 percent decline in its equity partnership ranks, which fell from 135 to 127, and a 3.5 percent increase in the nonequity ranks, which grew from 85 to 88.
Shook Hardy chairwoman Madeleine McDonough, coming off her first full year at the firm’s helm, said in 2017 the firm reaped benefits from a strategic plan focused on introducing clients to different practice areas within the firm. The idea behind that strategy, McDonough said, was to help the firm expand its relationships with clients and promote a broader awareness about the firm’s offerings.
Although products liability defense has been Shook Hardy’s bread-and-butter practice, the firm also has intellectual property, commercial litigation and environmental and toxic tort expertise—the firm’s strategic plan aimed to introduce longtime products liability clients to those other groups, and to do the same in reverse, introducing IP or commercial litigation clients to all practices at the firm, according to McDonough.
“We reworked our strategic plan and we’ve really executed on it,” McDonough said. “What we’re seeing is a lot of our longstanding clients … consolidating their portfolio, their work, with us.”
Beyond Shook Hardy’s efforts to introduce clients across practices, McDonough noted that the firm is actively looking to expand with new hires in its key litigation specialties. The firm chair said Shook Hardy is “in a growth mode” and it is “a robust period for the firm.”
“Lateral hiring is also a focus of ours,” McDonough said. “We’re trying to find really good strategic fits who have an understanding of our clients … but can also litigate and try cases.”
In 2017, the firm’s lateral hires included Sharon Israel, a Houston-based IP litigator who joined in August from Mayer Brown, and Buffy Mims, a products liability litigator who joined in Washington, D.C., from Hollingsworth.
McDonough said Israel and Mims reflect a larger trend at Shook Hardy—it has increasingly become a welcome professional home for women and minority lawyers, who are often leading the firm’s trial teams and holding leadership roles.
“I really think if you look at other firms, they do not have the depth of trial lawyers, and, particularly, diverse trial lawyers,” McDonough said.