Profits per equity partner jumped 12 percent to $3.25 million last year at Paul Hastings, marking a nearly 25 percent increase over the past two years.
The firm’s top line also reached a new high, with gross revenue climbing 9.1 percent to $1.22 billion in 2018, according to preliminary ALM reporting. That represents the seventh year of continuous revenue growth at the firm.
Revenue per lawyer also increased 6 percent, reaching $1.29 million.
Attorney head count ticked up 2.9 percent, from 921 lawyers to 948 in 2018, while the firm’s equity partner ranks contracted 1.6 percent to 187, down from 190 equity partners in 2017. Its nonequity partner tier grew by 2.4 percent to 84 partners last year.
“Our strategy continues to be to win a great share of our clients’ most important and complex work,” said New York-based Paul Hastings’ chairman Seth Zachary, who has led the firm since 2000.
That straightforward approach has paid off, he said, with increased demand and realization rising along with the stakes and sophistication of client matters. Client demand rose nearly 4.5 percent in 2018, Zachary said.
In particular, last year’s performance was driven by the firm’s finance and funds, private equity, investigations and white-collar, intellectual property and life sciences practices, he said.
“We had strong years almost everywhere,” Zachary said. “It isn’t about a big case or a big team or a big partner, it’s just a continuing improvement and acceleration in the improvement of our practice and our platform, and we’re delighted about that.”
Following on its work on the $9.1 billion acquisition of Cequel III Communications by Suddenlink in 2015, the firm led the representation of Credit Suisse Group and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in connection with more than $5.5 billion in notes exchanged by Altice Corp. and Cequel Communications.
It also continued its representation of the unsecured creditors’ committee in Puerto Rico’s bankruptcy, the largest municipal bankruptcy filing ever in the U.S.
The firm also advised Beijing-based private equity firm CDH Investments on its $1.4 billion acquisition of shares of Sirtex Medical, an Australian-based medical device company. It also advised Coralville, Iowa-based life sciences company Integrated DNA Technologies Inc. in its $2 billion sale to Danaher Corp.
Paul Hastings’ IP practice represented German drugmaker Boehringer Ingelheim in its patent infringement case against six generic drug firms, which earned it the award for IP Team of the Year in ALM sibling publication Legal Week’s Transatlantic Legal Awards.
Across the Atlantic, Paul Hastings’ London office also had a superb year, Zachary said, noting a 14 percent increase in revenue to $92.4 million.
The firm also made several key lateral hires in its London office, adding longtime Linklaters corporate partner Roger Barron, DLA Piper private equity partner Anu Balasubramanian and Cooley cybersecurity partner Sarah Pearce. It also added Baker McKenzie financial services and regulatory partner Arun Srivastava as head of the firm’s regulatory and fintech and payments practices in London.
In the U.S., the firm opened its second Los Angeles office in Century City in March with Loeb & Loeb entertainment lawyers Craig Emanuel, Mickey Mayerson, Stephen Saltzman and Susan Zuckerman Williams. They were later joined by six other Loeb & Loeb attorneys, including partner Erik Hyman, to build out Paul Hastings’ entertainment and media practice in its new California office.
In New York, the firm added Jones Day restructuring partner Pedro Jimenez and private funds partner Ira Kustin from Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, as well as the head of Simpson Thacher & Barlett’s derivatives practice, Joyce Xu.
Zachary, who was elected to his seventh and final term in late 2017, said the firm will continue to expand in London, New York and Washington, D.C., as well as in Century City, the Bay Area and Palo Alto, where it recently added the global head of White & Case’s technology M&A practice and co-head of its global technology industry group, William Choe, as well as M&A partner Jason Rabbitt-Tomita.
“We’re very optimistic about this year, and we’re optimistic because we’re seeing lots of the avenues of our progress last year continuing at the same pace,” Zachary said.