Davis Wright Tremaine posted notable gains in profits and revenue in 2018.
Gross revenue grew 5.7 percent, from $357.5 million to $377.9 million, as net income rose 5.9 percent, from $121.7 million to $128.8 million. Profits per equity partner saw a sizable increase of 9.2 percent, from $716,000 to $782,000.
The number of equity partners dropped to 165 from 170, and total head count remained flat at 521 attorneys.
Sarah English Tune, chair of the firm’s corporate and business transactions practice, said much of the growth is due to the firm’s strategy of empowering its younger attorneys.
“We put our young partners in leadership positions,” Tune said. “We’ve really given our younger attorneys, especially younger partners, the opportunity and support to develop their practice.”
As an example, Tune pointed out the firm’s food and beverage practice, created “essentially from scratch” by Davis Wright partner Jesse Lyon. The practice area was critical to assisting on a $120 million acquisition of vegan meat and cheese company Field Roast Grain Meat Co. by Maple Leaf Foods in January of last year. Don Buder, also part of the practice group, was instrumental in helping with the organizing and opening of Naturally Bay Area, a food and beverage industry group.
Davis Wright’s large media practice also had a great year, according to firm leaders. Chief strategy officer Mark Usellis said the attention on the media has generated significant business as the firm represented a slate of major news outlets during litigation in 2018, including BuzzFeed, The New York Times, CNN and the Washington Post. (Amazon is also a major client of the firm.)
Looking toward 2019, the firm revamped its five-year strategic plan. Tune said the new blueprint is similar to the previous one, as the firm looks to continue the success it had over the last five years. Since 2014, Davis Wright has consistently outperformed peer firms in revenue growth and profits per equity partner, according to ALM Intelligence. The firm’s gross revenue grew 32.6 percent, from $285 million to $378 million, over that period. Profits per partner rose from $540,000 to $782,000—a 44.8 percent increase.
“I feel like we got a pretty good approach going, and it’s really a matter of being disciplined and focused,” Usellis said. “We want to be entrepreneurial. We don’t want to be stagnant.”