A year after saying a dip in profits per partner in 2011 was the product of internal "investment," White & Case reaped its return in 2012, as the firm’s PPP rose more than 15 percent to a record $1.7 million, according to The American Lawyer‘s reporting.
“Our 2012 financial performance is the result of the investments we’ve made in the firm," says White & Case chairman Hugh Verrier. "The extraordinary thing is that we grew revenue while keeping head count steady."
The increase in profits came as the firm’s gross revenue climbed 4 percent, to $1.38 billion; its revenue per lawyer rose 4.3 percent, to a record $730,000; and its costs fell by more than 1 percent.
White & Case managed to achieve all that, Verrier notes, while meeting its goal of holding the number of lawyers at all levels roughly even—something he hopes will happen again in 2013. The firm’s overall attorney head count inched down in 2012, from 1,906 to 1,900, with the firm ending the year with five fewer associates and one less nonequity partner than it had at the end of 2011. The equity ranks held steady with 278 partners.
Of course, the partnership does not comprise the same 278 faces now that it did when 2012 began. The most prominent departures were Gerald Uzzi, who left to join the bankruptcy group at Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCoy, and white-collar group leader George Terwilliger, who left for Morgan, Lewis & Bockius.
Those losses were offset by the arrival of New York M&A icon Morton Pierce, who joined White & Case with seven other partners and an estimated $60 million book of business from the now-defunct Dewey & LeBoeuf. By jumping over from the imploding Dewey, Pierce satisfied in grand style White & Case’s long-standing goal of enhancing its New York M&A practice. While his group has been busy and has integrated smoothly, Verrier says, it arrived too late in the year to contribute to the bottom line.
Verrier says the standout performers last year included the firm’s restructuring group, which worked for private creditors of Greece; the litigation group, which settled a $261 million verdict against client Toshiba Corporation for a mere $30 million; and the project finance group, which represented the sponsors in Qatar’s $10 billion Barzan gas project.
This report is part of The Am Law Daily‘s early coverage of 2012 financial results of The Am Law 100/200. See our interactive chart. 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.