Munger, Tolles & Olson recorded impressive financial results in 2013, with revenue rising 16 percent, to $247.5 million, and profits per partner up 13 percent, to $1.77 million. Among the matters fueling that performance and keeping the firm’s 180 lawyers busy last year: four major trials, as well as a significant deal for key client Berkshire Hathaway.
“We were hitting on all cylinders,” says Munger Tolles managing partner Sandra Seville-Jones. “For a firm our size to be in four major trials—that stretches us and keeps us busy.”
Last year’s 13 percent jump in profits was the third straight double-digit gain Munger Tolles has made in that category, following a 16 percent rise in 2012 and an 11 percent uptick in 2011. The firm’s revenue per lawyer, meanwhile, increased 12 percent last year, to roughly $1.38 million.
The marquee matters that helped fatten Munger Tolles’ bottom line included the firm’s representation of TransOcean Ltd. in litigation in New Orleans federal court, where the company is one of several defendants facing liability related to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. The judge in the case has not yet ruled, and the third phase of the trial is set for this year.
In other high-profile court battles, Munger Tolles successfully defended Philip Morris in a false advertising class action brought by smokers of light cigarettes in San Diego state court, and secured a favorable defense verdict for Wells Fargo in a securities class action in Minneapolis brought by institutional investors. The firm also represented J.C. Penney Corporation in its litigation with Macy’s Inc. over the Martha Stewart brand. There, the parties settled before the court ruled.
On the corporate side, Munger Tolles represented Warren Buffett–controlled holding company Berkshire Hathaway in connection with its February 2013 purchase, with private equity firm 3G Capital, of H.J. Heinz & Co. for $28 billion. (Founding firm partner Charles Munger serves as Berkshire Hathaway’s vice chairman.)
At roughly 1-to-1, Munger Tolles’ partner-associate ratio remained unusually low in 2013. The firm’s overall head count rose slightly, from 174 to 180; its equity partnership ranks grew by two, to 88. Munger Tolles—which does not have nonequity partners—saw little lateral partner movement in 2013. Perhaps the most notable addition was partner Jeffrey Bleich, who rejoined the firm in December after a four-year stint as U.S. ambassador to Australia.
This report is part of The Am Law Daily’s early coverage of 2013 financial results of The Am Law 100/200. Final rankings and full results for The Am Law 100 will be published in The American Lawyer’s May 2014 issue and on AmericanLawyer.com. The Am Law Second Hundred will be published in the June issue.