Shook, Hardy & Bacon saw flat growth in revenue and head count in 2018, though the firm made some key hires in the lateral market.
Gross revenue was down 0.7 percent, from $350.7 million to $348.1 million, with net income also dropping slightly from $118.3 million to $117.5 million.
Profits per equity partner declined from $931,000 to $918,000 — a 1.4 percent drop. But revenue per lawyer saw a marginal increase of 0.3 percent, from $751,000 to $753,000.
Shook Hardy & Bacon Chair Madeleine McDonough said the results illustrate the reality of running a complex litigation firm that frequently brings in large contingency fees.
“A lot of it is inherent as litigation has different cycles,” McDonough said. “Even if we win a big case we might not collect for another year or so.”
Shook Hardy saw fewer contingency fee collections last year than in previous years, McDonough said. In 2017, the firm had a blockbuster year, with profits per partner growing 15 percent and gross revenue climbing 5 percent.
Shook Hardy took 23 cases to verdict last year, according to McDonough. Notable cases include a win in California on behalf of Monster Beverages, a $58 million verdict in a Tennessee case on behalf of health care trade association Highlands Physicians, and a Florida case defending medical device maker Stryker.
The firm’s head count was flat, hovering at 215 partners and 463 total lawyers. But McDonough said a point of pride for the firm is the talent it attracted in 2018.
Shook Hardy bolstered its international arbitration practice with the hire of Carlos Concepción, a high-flying arbitrator and president of the Miami International Arbitration Society. Arbitrators Giovanni Angles and Ricardo Ampudia also jumped to Shook.
In Texas, Shook picked up former Coca-Cola litigation counsel John Lewis Jr., who is filling several roles, including heading up the firm’s diversity efforts. At Coca-Cola, Lewis also served as the company’s chief diversity officer.
In Chicago, the firm boosted its tort practice with the hires of Melissa Siebert and Erin Bolan Hines, whose practices focus on BIPA (Biometric Information Privacy Act) litigation, bringing Shook’s BIPA practice to a total of 30 cases, according to McDonough.
McDonough said Shook will look to extend its lateral strategy into 2018, focusing on individual partners and skill sets, not geography. However, she said she does not rule out a potential new office opening.
The firm focuses laterals on three areas: intellectual property, privacy and data security and commercial litigation.
“Now, [with] the California Consumer Privacy Act and GDPR, our privacy practice is going gangbusters,” McDonough said.