Goodwin Procter had a record year in 2013, with gross revenues rising 5 percent to $752.5 million, according to The American Lawyer’s reporting. Revenue per lawyer was up 6.5 percent, to $980,000, and profits per equity partner grew 7 percent, to $1.625 million, topping the firm’s past financial performance. Average compensation for all partners—a measure that takes into account the firm’s nonequity tier—rose by nearly 8 percent, to $1.225 million, also a new high at Goodwin.
“I’m feeling that [this year] is a harbinger of the future,” longtime Goodwin chair Regina Pisa said in a phone interview Tuesday. “I think it feels like it has legs to it. It feels like it has momentum.”
After the firm modest gains in profits and revenues in 2012, Pisa told us, its latest round of strategic planning focused on top-line growth. She said partners have redoubled their efforts to collaborate and cross-sell in targeted industry sectors such as real estate capital markets and biotechnology and life sciences. The firm’s business side—with revenues up by 11 percent—drove last year’s growth, she said, while litigation was essentially flat year-over-year.
The firm had another strong year in its real estate capital markets practice, long a strength on the business side of the firm. In February, Goodwin represented real estate investment trust Crexus Investment Corporation in its $872 million buyout by Annaly Capital Management. Annaly was represented by counsel at K&L Gates. Goodwin also represented REIT Essex Property Trust in its $4.34 billion cash-and-stock deal to acquire California-based REIT BRE Properties, announced in December. Latham & Watkins represented BRE.
In technology and life sciences, the firm handled 18 initial public offerings—eight for the issuers and 10 for the underwriters. The firm’s corporate lawyers also represented California-based Onyx Pharmaceuticals in its $10.4 billion sale to Amgen Inc. in one of the largest biotechnology deals of the year. Sullivan & Cromwell represented Amgen in the deal.
Pisa said the flat year in litigation was understandable given how busy the firm’s litigators were throughout the recession and in the past few years since. “Average hours [in litigation] weren’t healthy, frankly,” she said. The firm continued to help Bank of America Corporation and its Countrywide Financial Corporation unit deal with the fallout from the financial crisis as our colleagues at The Litigation Daily have chronicled again, and again, and again, and again.
When asked if she worries about what will happen when BofA eventually resolves the cases on the firm’s docket, Pisa said, “I think I’ve done all my worrying about that already.” She said her prior predictions that the litigation would have been resolved by now turned out to be “too pessimistic or not true.” On top of that, Pisa said the firm has been getting new cases from Bank of America in new areas to replace those falling off its Countrywide docket.
But the news wasn’t all rosy at Goodwin. In June, the firm announced plans to shutter its San Diego office at the end of September. The firm offered the majority of the 16 attorneys there the option to relocate or partially work from home, but only five remain with Goodwin.
Pisa said the office was performing well financially, but partners decided to focus on growing the firm’s existing offices in San Francisco, Silicon Valley and Los Angeles. San Diego wasn’t on the list of cities that Goodwin initially targeted when it launched its aggressive California expansion efforts in the middle of the last decade.
But the firm did have the opportunity to take on a life sciences group from Heller Ehrman in San Diego in 2007. Pisa said that at the time, San Diego was viewed as a significant biotech and life sciences hub, but a lot of that activity has moved since to the SoMa section of San Francisco. “San Diego was an office that was not growing in a market whose singular asset that made us want to open an office there was shrinking,” she said.
Still, the firm plans to continue expanding in California, Pisa said. In spite of recent studies questioning the impact lateral partners have on firm profitability, Pisa said the firm’s strategic plan calls for more lateral partner hires. She said the firm’s expansion will focus on expanding in existing practices and offices rather than moving into new ones. “Part of the strategic plan that we went through this year took a look at our lateral growth and concluded that lateral growth is indeed a part of our future,” she said.
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.