While both gross revenue and revenue per lawyer ticked up slightly at Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy in 2012, the firm’s profits declined amid an expansion of the equity partnership ranks, according to The American Lawyer‘s reporting.
Milbank’s gross revenue rose 2 percent last year, to $665 million, while revenue per lawyer climbed 4.5 percent, to $1.165 million. On the flip side, profits per equity partner dipped 4.9 percent, to $2.445 million. The results came as the firm’s overall attorney head count declined 2.4 percent, to 571, and total partner head count increased 0.7 percent, or a single partner, to 147.
Underlying the modest change in the overall partnership figure were noticeable shifts in both the equity and nonequity ranks. The firm’s equity partnership increased by 11, or 8.7 percent, to 138, while the nonequity partnership shrank by 10, or 52.6 percent, to nine partners.
Newly installed Milbank chair Scott Edelman says the increase in the number of equity partners—and the resulting decline in average profits per partner—was fed by several nonequity partners upgrading their status, as well as the firm’s decision to drop a policy under which lateral hires typically joined as nonequity partners.
Discussing the firm’s overall financial performance last year, Edelman chooses to highlight the positive. “We had a good year," he says. "There’s the 2 percent increase in topline revenue. We added to our London office. Our leverage finance and project finance practices had very good years.”
Edelman also notes that last year’s figures were somewhat depressed by the fact that several substantial collections did not come in until after 2012 began. He declined to disclose the clients involved.
Edelman, who had been serving as the firm’s vice-chairman, succeeded Mel Immergut in the firm’s top post earlier this month. As The Am Law Daily recently reported, Milbank diversified its client base during Immergut’s 16-year tenure, while becoming an attractive landing spot for laterals and opening new offices in Europe, Asia, and Latin America.
Some of the firm’s high-profile matters last year reflect the changes Immergut ushered in, including its representation of a group of 10 international lenders in a pipeline project designed to bring natural gas from the United States to the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Durango, and Coahuila. Milbank also represented Dutch financial company Rabobank Groep in connection with LIBOR–rigging allegations, as well as Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc. in its $7.3 billion acquisition of the aviation leasing unit of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc.
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.