A modest increase in gross revenue combined with a dip in the firm’s equity partnership ranks helped boost Los Angeles–based Irell & Manella’s profits per equity partner 19 percent, to $3.42 million last year, according to The American Lawyer‘s reporting.

The spike in profits at Irell came as the 212-lawyer’s gross revenue rose 4.5 percent, to $255 million, and the size of its one-tier partnership dipped 9.4 percent, from 53 to 48. The firm’s overall attorney head count, meanwhile, fell 4.1 percent, and its revenue per lawyer rose 9.1 percent, to $1.55 million.

According to managing partner Andrei Iancu, who says last year’s reductions in both partners and total attorneys were the product of natural attrition, Irell’s 2012 performance shows the firm doing more with less. "We do have slightly fewer people this year, so we have been more efficient as a result," Iancu says.
 
The latest results mean Irell is likely to maintain its relatively lofty perch among the nation’s leading law firms. Last year, its PPP of $2.875 million was the eighth-highest among Am Law 200 firms, while its RPL of $1.425 million qualified it for third place in that category, behind only Wachtell, Rosen, Lipton & Katz and Sullivan & Cromwell.
 
Iancu says 2012 stood out for the diversity of matters that kept firm attorneys busy, including intellectual property cases, securities litigation, transactional work, and bankruptcies. For example, Irell continued to represent Tivo Inc. in connection with patent infringement lawsuits launched against companies such as AT&T, Inc.m and Verizon Communications Inc., over digital video recording technology.
 
Other notable matters in which Irell had a hand last year include its defense of BlackBerry maker Research In Motion in a patent infringement action brought by Unwired Planet Inc., before the International Trade Commission, and its representation of homebuilder William Lyon Homes Inc. in a prepackaged reorganization.
 
This report is part of The Am Law Daily’s early coverage of the 2012 financials results of The Am Law 100/200. Final rankings and full results for The Am Law 100 will be published in The American Lawyer’s May 2013 issue and on AmericanLawyer.com. The Am Law Second Hundred will be published in the June issue.