Photo: Jason Doiy/ALM

Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati reported another year of growth in revenue and profits per equity partner (PEP) in 2018, as it added to its corporate practices and made its entrance into the U.K.

Gross revenue at the Palo Alto, California-based firm rose 7.5 percent to $857 million in 2018, showing a slight acceleration in growth from 2017. The firm’s revenue per lawyer climbed 4.9 percent to $1.12 million.

Net income grew by 9.9 percent, from $280.2 million in 2017 to $308 million in 2018. And on that growth, PEP rose by 6.3 percent to $2.35 million.

“It was a great year for us, all across our practice areas,” Wilson Sonsini managing partner Douglas Clark said, noting that 2018 was the firm’s sixth consecutive year of revenue growth.

Clark, who has been acting as the sole managing partner of Wilson Sonsini since partner John “Jack” Sheridan decamped for Latham & Watkins in 2017, said the firm’s stronger performance in key practice areas, including capital markets, M&A, intellectual property, litigation and antitrust, fueled financial growth last year.

“We have invested in a number of key areas, we hired everywhere across the firm throughout the year,” Clark said. “It was a year of very strong organic growth in all of our locations.”

Attorney head count at the Silicon Valley-based firm grew by 2.4 percent, from 746 in 2017 to 764 in 2018.

Wilson Sonsini brought on eight lateral partners in 2018, according to the firm. That helped bring the total partnership to 201, increasing by a net of 10 lawyers from the prior year. The firm’s equity partner tier increased in size by 3.1 percent to 131.

On the corporate side, the firm added Daniel Keating, a former partner in Hogan Lovells’ corporate and M&A groups, in Washington, D.C.; former Squire Patton Boggs corporate and securities partner Kenji Funahashi in Los Angeles; James Jensen, former leader of Perkins Coie‘s China emerging company and investment fund formation practice; and Andrew Hill, a former Goodwin Procter partner, in Silicon Valley.

In addition to the eight lateral partners, the firm said it also hired seven of counsel, as well as 140 associates and other legal professionals throughout the year.

“Our plan for the coming year is to continue to hire laterally to support the demand we have seen from our clients,” Clark said, noting that Wilson Sonsini has been putting more emphasis on growing its associate classes. Last year, the firm hired 54 first-year associates and elected 16 associates the partnership.

As for the legal work arising from that demand, Wilson Sonsini’s corporate lawyers worked on 15 IPOs and advised over 150 mergers and acquisitions in 2018, according to the firm.

That activity included taking lead for Dropbox Inc. as the San Francisco-based cloud storage technology giant sought to raise $500 million through an IPO on the Nasdaq last February; representing online education provider Pluralsight Inc. on its $310.5 million offering in May; counseling Domo Inc. on the data analytics company’s $193 million IPO in June; and advising on a $180 million IPO by SVMK Inc., the parent company of cloud-based software company SurveyMonkey.

On the litigation side, the firm is representing Qualcomm in its defense against Broadcom’s $117 billion hostile acquisition attempt. Broadcom abandoned the takeover in March.

Tracking Entrepreneurship Exportation

Wilson Sonsini has taken stock of its clients and is growing to fit them, Clark said. But it isn’t looking for rapid expansion by combination—when asked if the firm is considering any mergers, Clark responded: “Absolutely not!”

“The way we have grown in Silicon Valley and beyond is in sync with client demand and growth in the technology and life sciences industries around them,” Clark said. “As Silicon Valley has exported entrepreneurial companies and behaviors across the world, we have certainly followed and grown with it.”

With that in mind, the firm made an effort to push into the U.K. technology and life sciences sector last summer, opening a new London office led by corporate and technology partner Daniel Glazer, head of the firm’s U.S. expansion practice.

To kick off 2019, Wilson Sonsini announced a non-exclusive relationship with U.K. firm Taylor Wessing to collaborate on transactional work for technology and life sciences clients.

As for the rest of the year, Clark said, “I think we’ll have another year of well-distributed growth in term of demand for our services, and growth in all of our locations.”

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