In a sign that 2011′s flat results were a mere blip in an otherwise steady upward climb in recent years, Cahill Gordon & Reindel hit new highs in both revenue and profits in 2012, according to The American Lawyer‘s reporting. The firm’s gross revenue increased 6.9 percent, to $348.5 million, while its profits per partner jumped 10.7 percent, to $3.555 million.
"It was a record year, and we were quite pleased," says Jonathan Schaffzin, a Cahill executive committee member. "We were hitting on all cylinders for all practices throughout the entire year."
On the litigation side, Schaffzin says, the firm’s government investigations and securities litigation practices deserve special note. In particular, he cites the work of partner David Kelley, a former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York who represented HSBC Holdings plc on a $1.25 billion deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice and other regulatory settlements related to allegations that the bank failed to maintain an effective anti–money laundering program. (HSBC’s forfeitures and penalties totaled $1.9 billion.) Kelley and partner Bart Friedman are also representing the audit committee of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in an internal investigation focused on an alleged bribery scheme that plagued the company’s operations in Mexico. In another high-profile matter, former Shearman & Sterling partner Herbert Washer, who joined Cahill last June, is representing Credit Suisse in multiple criminal and civil probes, including a global investigation into the bank’s practices related to the benchmark interest rate LIBOR.
Corporate work was similarly plentiful in 2012 and didn’t slow down in the second half of the year, as it did in 2011. A longtime go-to firm for banks in the high-yield debt and leveraged loan markets, Cahill completed 230 deals in the former category last year and 150 in the latter, Schaffzin says. The firm also had a relatively steady stream of lower-profile M&A work in 2012, including representing Ascend Health Corporation in connection with its $517 million sale to Universal Health Services Inc, in a deal announced in June.
Cahill increased its total attorney head count by 8.2 percent last year, to 303, in a hiring burst that Schaffzin says was necessary to keep up with the firm’s increased workload. At the same time, he notes that while Cahill has slightly increased the size of its incoming associate classes—this year’s summer class will be 10 to 15 percent larger than the norm, for example—it has placed a greater emphasis on increasing associate retention. The firm has been paying " above-market bonuses for above-market work," says Schaffzin, and has also sharpened its focus on professional development. "We got really extraordinary efforts from everyone [last year], and our associates have been really substantial contributors. They were a big part of our story [last year]."
Within the partner ranks, Cahill added one equity partner and two nonequity partners to its head count in 2012. The firm’s revenue per lawyer dropped 1.3 percent, to $1.15 million, as a result of the larger overall head count.
Schaffzin is cautiously optimistic when discussing the firm’s expectations for 2013. Cahill is representing the underwriting banks in several notable financing deals, including the financing for the proposed $24.4 billion leveraged buyout of computer maker Dell and the $23 billion buyout of H.J. Heinz Co.
"The year is starting off well, but the corporate side is always unpredictable because it depends on the markets," he says. That said, the firm’s stream of litigation and government investigations work remains strong. Famed partner Floyd Abrams is putting his First Amendment prowess to work representing McGraw-Hill Cos. and its Standard & Poor’s unit in a massive Justice Department lawsuit. Justice alleges in the suit, which was announced earlier this month, that S&P understated the risks of certain mortgage-related securities that were central to the financial crisis. Says Shaffzin: "That work is not going anywhere [anytime soon]."
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 2013 issue and on AmericanLawyer.com. The Am Law Second Hundred will be published in the June issue.