About this time last year—after Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison clocked in with 2011 financial results that reflected all-time highs in both gross revenues and profits per partner—chairman Brad Karp suggested the firm’s performance would be even stronger in 2012. Judging by The American Lawyer‘s early reporting, Karp was right on the mark.
Paul Weiss saw its gross revenue jump 12.4 percent last year, to $877 million, and its profits per partner climb 8.2 percent, to $3.35 million. Says Karp: "We were very fortunate to enjoy record revenues and profits in 2012."
What accounted for the gains? Karp says Paul Weiss’s corporate department "exploded" last year, with the firm handling more multibillion-dollar transactions than ever before while enjoying a similar surge in multibillion-dollar litigation and regulatory work.
The year saw Paul Weiss maintain its traditional perch among the top litigation firms by, for example, winning a $170 million verdict for General Electric Co. in patent litigation over wind turbines; stepping in on behalf of Bank of America before it reached a $2.43 billion shareholder settlement over its Merrill Lynch acquisition; and representing the National Football League in litigation over player concussions.
But Karp says what really distinguished 2012 was the firm’s work on the dealmaking front, as its share of the M&A market rose 350 percent in what he describes as the largest single-year increase any New York firm has racked up in almost a decade. Continuing a two-year run that has seen it land roles on more than 40 multibillion-dollar deals, Paul Weiss handled such notable assignments as advising Apollo Global Management in connection with its $7.2 billion acquisition of El Paso Corporation’s oil and gas exploration and production units.
"We’ve made a number of strategic investments in our transactional practice over the past few years that have paid off handsomely," Karp says. "Last year was our most balanced year ever in terms of the activity levels and results achieved by our litigation and corporate practices."
Paul Weiss’s overall attorney head count rose from 737 to 803 in 2012, while its equity partnership ranks grew by three, to 129. (Paul Weiss does not have a nonequity tier.) Among the lateral moves The Am Law Daily reported on last year, the firm picked up employment partner Andrew Gaines from Weil, Gotshal & Manges and lost IP lawyer Robert Parker to Baker & McKenzie.
While Karp declined to make a prediction for 2013, he did say January was the firm’s strongest month ever. If recent history is any guide, Paul Weiss could be off to another record-breaking year.
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.