McDermott, Will & Emery continued its postrecession recovery in 2013, registering a second consecutive year of solid financial results, according to The American Lawyer‘s reporting.
Prior to the recent reversal, Chicago-based McDermott had seen its gross revenue drop for three straight years, with almost $190 million, or 24 percent, wiped from its topline between 2009 and 2011. The firm rebounded to post a 5 percent increase in gross revenue in 2012, and grew its topline by another 3.5 percent, to $881 million, in 2013.
McDermott’s profits also grew last year, with a 7 percent gain in net income, to $297 million, helping to push average profits per partner up 5.8 percent, to a new high of $1.545 million. The firm’s profit margin inched up by 1 percentage point, to 34 percent, while its revenue per lawyer climbed 4.2 percent, to $865,000.
McDermott cochair Jeffrey Stone, who also chairs the firm’s management committee, says he is “very pleased” with the results.
“To be able to grow revenue at 3.5 percent in a market that continues to be challenging is a real statement,” Stone says. “We feel that the strength of the firm’s platform is evident in these numbers.”
Stone—who says the growth was evenly distributed across the firm’s practice groups and 19 offices—was quick to note that the strong financial performance came even as the firm recorded what he describes as its best ever year for pro bono efforts. About 5 percent of McDermott’s billable time in 2013 was devoted to pro bono work—a figure significantly in excess of the American Bar Association’s suggested level of 3 percent—with 84 percent of the firm’s lawyers participating in pro bono during the year and 55 percent dedicating 20 hours or more.
Meanwhile, McDermott’s activity on the hiring front in 2013 is likely to have endeared the firm to legal recruiters, as a total of 22 lateral partners came aboard across 11 U.S. and international offices.
McDermott bolstered its trial practice with one of those hires: Marisa Chun, a former deputy associate attorney general with the U.S. Department of Justice. Chun, who was recently named one of the market’s 50 leading female tech lawyers by sibling publication The Recorder, joined the firm in June as a partner in its Silicon Valley office. The following month, McDermott hired IP litigator Bernard Knight Jr., the former general counsel of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Elsewhere, McDermott made two hires aimed at boosting its white-collar and securities defense practice in September, bringing in Houston-based Michael Wynne, a former assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of Texas, and Patton Boggs partner Todd Harrison in New York.
Among the firm’s other notable hires: former Ashurst German private equity head Nikolaus Von Jacobs, who joined McDermott’s Munich office in December to lead the firm’s efforts in that sector in Germany.
Looking ahead, Stone’s cochair, Peter Sacripanti, says the firm sees reason to think 2014 will be another good year.
“As we look forward, we’re cautiously optimistic that we’ll continue on our current trajectory and see growth in all [financial] indices,” he says. “Having said that, the world is a very unpredictable place. You can’t predict where events, whether they be force majeure events or others, will affect our clients’ businesses and therefore ours.”
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.