Last year was a solid one for Sidley Austin, with the global firm with roots in Chicago seeing its profits per partner surge 12 percent, to $1.8 million; its gross revenue rise 5 percent, to nearly $1.49 billion; its revenue per lawyer inch up about 2 percent, to $910,000; and its net income jump 7.4 percent, to more than $510 million, according to The American Lawyer‘s reporting.
"We were pleased with the growth on the topline and the bottom line," says Sidley executive committee chairman Thomas Cole, who attributes the robust profit figure primarily to a reduction in costs and the increase in revenue. The latter, he says, was driven by an uptick in both premium work and billing rates. A more modest factor behind the jump in PPP, Cole says, was a 4 percent decline in the firm’s equity partnership, to 284. The number of nonequity partners, meanwhile, rose 9 percent, to 365. Cole says the shifts in the equity and nonequity partner head counts were mostly the product of "natural ebb and flow."
While expressing pleasure over a "financial performance that speaks for itself," Cole is also focused on a pair of recent events he believes position the firm well for this year and beyond.
On Monday, as sibling publication The Asian Lawyer reports, Sidley became one of the first 10 law firms to receive qualified foreign legal practice status in Singapore. With that designation in hand, Cole says the firm plans to significantly expand the Singapore, U.S., and U.K. law capabilities of its 30-year-old office in the city-state to handle the growing demand for both transactions in the South Asian region (most notably Indonesia), and for international arbitration in Singapore itself.
Last week, meanwhile, Sidley celebrated the one-year anniversary of the Houston office it opened on February 14, 2012, with seven partners from seven different law firms. Cole says he expects the office to be home to 10 partners before long, and as many as 40 partners down the road. "The Houston office has significantly exceeded expectations," he says. "We think of it as a Valentine’s Day gift to the firm."
In April, Cole is scheduled to step down after 15 years as Sidley’s executive committee chairman. Once free of his managerial duties, Cole—who will be succeeded by well-known Supreme Court specialist Carter Phillips, who works out of the firm’s Washington, D.C., office—says he plans to devote himself to his corporate practice full time and to revive a course on corporate governance at the University of Chicago Law School.
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 other Am Law 100 and Second Hundred firms whose finances 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.