For the second year in a row, Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel saw its gross revenue edge up to a new high, while its profits per partner and revenue per lawyer figures also rose, according to The American Lawyer‘s reporting.
Kramer Levin, which has just three offices—in New York, Paris, and Silicon Valley—enjoyed a 2.2 percent increase in gross revenue, which jumped to $319 million from $312 million in 2011, and a similar bump in profits per equity partner, which climbed to $1.68 million from $1.64 million. Revenue per lawyer, meanwhile, rose 3.6 percent, to $995,000.
"I think we performed extremely well in a difficult economic environment," says Paul Pearlman, Kramer Levin’s longtime managing partner and a private equity specialist. "Both demand and productivity increased."
Kramer Levin’s overall attorney head count dropped 1.5 percent last year, from 325 to 320. The partnership ranks, meanwhile, remained relatively flat, with the firm adding one equity partner and one nonequity partner to bring the respective totals to 70 and 36.
The biggest chunk of Kramer Levin’s revenue came from litigation, with the firm’s white-collar practice especially busy in 2012, according to Pearlman. During the first half of the year, a team led by name partner Gary Naftalis represented Rajat Gupta, who was sentenced to two years in prison in October after being convicted on charges that he passed internal Goldman Sachs earnings data to former Galleon Group hedge fund founder Raj Rajaratnam. (The firm is currently working on Gupta’s appeal.) Kramer Levin also represented Chad Elie, who pleaded guilty to operating an illegal gambling business after being snared in a government crackdown on offshore online poker companies, and Brad Abelow, former president and COO of MF Global Holdings in connection with investigations and class action suits arising from the company’s collapse.
Another standout performer was the firm’s bankruptcy group, which, according to Pearlman, had a record year in 2012. Among its notable assignments: representing the unsecured creditors committee in the Residential Capital LLC bankruptcy, the year’s biggest Chapter 11 case. Kramer Levin lawyers also played a key role in the auction process that resulted in the $4.5 billion sale of ResCap’s servicing and origination businesses. The firm also landed choice creditors committee assignments in the Patriot Coal Corporation, Hostess Brands Inc. and WP Steel Venture LLC bankruptcies, while serving as debtor’s counsel in the General Maritime Corporation and St. Vincent Catholic Medical Centers of New York bankruptcies.
As for deal-related work, Pearlman says "some of our transactions started taking off" in the fourth quarter of the year based on the expectation that taxes would go up as of January 1. The firm handled a fair number of midmarket deals, including advising Ocwen Financial Corporation in connection with its $750 million purchase of Homeward Residential Holdings in October; and POOF-Slinky Inc. in its acquisition of Fundex Games Ltd via a Section 363 bankruptcy auction in December.
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.