A year after seeing its gross revenues and profits dip, Kasowitz Benson Friedman & Torres posted modest gains on both fronts in 2012, according to The American Lawyer‘s reporting.
New York–based Kasowitz Benson, which launched 20 years ago as an 18-lawyer Mayer Brown spin-off, saw its gross revenues rise 4 percent last year, to $250 million, while its profits per partner edge up 1.8 percent, to $1.7 million. The firm added a net total of ten lawyers during the course of the year, bringing its overall attorney head count to 365. Its equity partnership grew from 54 to 57, while its non-equity partner ranks declined from 54 to 51.
While the uptick in revenue more than offset 2011′s 2 percent drop-off, the firm’s profits have yet to return to their 2010 levels. Refusing to put too much emphasis on year-over-year fluctuations, managing partner Marc Kasowitz says the firm is thriving. He attributes 2011′s financial hiccup to a combination of several significant matters settling and an increase in spending aimed at advancing the firm’s ongoing expansion efforts. "From 2007 to now," he says, "we’ve almost doubled our size."
A good chunk of last year’s revenue came as a result of Kasowitz Benson’s work on big cases in which its clients are adverse to large banks, Kasowitz says. For example, the firm represents bond insurer MBIA Inc. in multibillion-dollar litigation over its 2009 restructuring. More than 20 major financial services companies, including Bank of America Corporation and CitiGroup Inc., claim MBIA illegally restructured itself to avoid meeting its obligations. Along with Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, Kasowitz Benson also represents Freddie Mae and Fannie Mac’s conservator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, in securities fraud litigation against 18 issuers of mortgage-backed securities, including Morgan Stanley and Societe Generale.
Kasowitz says his firm is well-positioned to take on such cases as a result of the client conflicts that prevent older, larger New York firms from getting involved: "Along with Quinn, we’re known as a go-to firm for those cases. That practice has been large and continues to grow."
Still mainly focused on litigation, Kasowitz Benson has steadily added talent in various practice areas over the past few years. In January 2010, for instance, the firm picked up a 13-lawyer insurance litigation team from Dickstein Shapiro whose book of business at the time was worth $20 million, according to a story by sibling publication the New York Law Journal. The following year, Kasowitz Benson picked up two IP litigators from Weil Gotshal & Manges in January and added six more from Sutherland Asbill & Brennan in May.
The firm extended its reach the following month when it launched a new corporate real estate practice with the addition of two real estate partners from Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. Kasowitz says the creation of that practice paid immediate dividends and credits it with contributing to last year’s growth. "That was a long-term investment that’s already paid off in the short-term," he says.
This report is part of The Am Law Daily‘s early coverage of 2012 financial results of The Am Law 100/200. Click here to see an interactive chart comparing this firm’s 2012 finances to those of other Am Law 100 and Second Hundred firms that The Am Law Daily and its sibling publications have reported on to date. 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.