In the second year after the merger that created Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer, the firm grew modestly as it re-embraced its original brand.
Gross revenues at the firm rose 1 percent to $961.2 million, while net income was effectively flat at $383.5 million. Declines in head count, particularly among its partnership, resulted in slightly stronger growth in profits per equity partner (PEP) and revenue per lawyer (RPL).
PEP rose 4.3 percent to $1.242 million as the partnership lost a net of 13 lawyers last year. The firm overall shrank by 11 lawyers, yielding a rise in RPL of 2.3 percent, to $1.024 million.
“We are on track for where I expected us to be in terms of the merger,” said Richard Alexander, the firm’s chairman.
Alexander said he measured the merger’s success by evaluating the reaction from clients and the impact on recruiting and retention. He said the feedback was positive on those fronts, calling the operational and cultural integration of Arnold & Porter and New York’s Kaye Scholer a success.
“I underestimated how intensely people-oriented making a successful merger is,” Alexander said, noting how much time he spent meeting with colleagues along the way. It was “a very good investment for me, but it’s been a busy two years in that regard,” he said.
While legally still Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer, last year the firm quietly removed “Kaye Scholer” from the masthead on its website and changed its website domain to arnoldporter.com from apks.com. The legacy D.C. firm now appears, on the outside, much in the same way it did before the merger.
That’s not to say there haven’t been important changes. Alexander said in the last year the firm added 24 laterals, including 15 partners, seven counsel and two policy advisers. One of those lateral partner recruits, Paul Fishman, opened an office in Newark, New Jersey, with the goal of creating a “serious, established presence” in the Garden State. Fishman, who was U.S. attorney for seven years in New Jersey before coming on board, followed John Fietkiewicz, who became senior counsel at Arnold & Porter in May 2018 after serving with Fishman.
More recently, the head of Arnold & Porter’s appellate and Supreme Court practice, Lisa Blatt, left the firm for Williams & Connolly, where she was an associate early in her career. At Arnold & Porter, Blatt earned bragging rights for arguing more cases before the Supreme Court than any woman before her and introduced Justice Brett Kavanaugh at Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on his nomination.
Alexander called Blatt’s departure a “regretted loss,” and noted her exit had no connection with her role in Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
“We’re not making decisions to go to a location to be in a location,” Alexander said. “We’re making a decision to go to a location because we view an opportunity for client service and client expansion.”
In the coming year, Alexander said to expect continued growth beyond its D.C. and New York offices, citing the West Coast as a target region for expansion.