Jenner & Block had a down year in 2013, with revenue off nearly 8 percent, to $357.5 million, and profits per partner plummeting 17 percent, to $1.235 million, according to The American Lawyer’s reporting. The firm’s revenue per lawyer dropped 8 percent, to $825,000.
It was the second straight year that the Chicago-based firm saw its finances either stagnate or slip. Over the last several years, Jenner’s fortunes have been marked by significant swings in both directions. In the three years from 2009 to 2011, the firm’s profits per partner jumped by an average of 24 percent a year amid its work on several major matters. The most substantial of those was the investigation led by firm chairman Anton Valukas into the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings, which concluded with a lengthy report in 2010. (The firm earned $54 million for its work on that matter, according to our previous reporting.) At the same time, Jenner boosted its profitability by shrinking its equity partner ranks.
In 2012, Jenner’s revenue was essentially flat, while its profits fell 4 percent.
Managing partner Susan Levy pointed out in a statement that the firm had an extraordinary run in previous years and that last year’s results was in part the product of government gridlock. “Between 2008 and 2012, Jenner & Block was engaged in many high-profile client matters and had one of the largest profitability increases in The Am Law 100,” she said. “In 2013, many of our clients in the firm’s premier government contracts and defense industry practice were adversely impacted by the federal budget cuts, sequestration and the government shutdown, which also impacted the firm’s utilization and revenue.”
Added Levy: “Nonetheless, 2013 was an exciting year for us and we continued to grow, with the recent promotion or lateral addition of 17 new partners across the firm. We are pleased that 2014 has started out strong with many significant client matters, and we look forward to carrying the momentum through the year.”
Jenner’s head count remained essentially flat in 2013, rising by two lawyers, to 434, while the number of equity partners dropped by two to 108. The firm has 94 nonequity partners, which represents an increase of one.
Last year, the firm lost Steven Meier, the cochair of its real estate securities practice, to Seyfarth Shaw, as well as two insurance partners, Jerold Oshinsky and Linda Kornfeld, to Kasowitz Benson Torres & Friedman. Lise Spacapan, who was cochair of the firm’s product liability practice, moved to Husch Blackwell.
At the same time, the firm made some key hires. In December it added former Kaye Scholer partner G. Thomas Stromberg, who had been co–managing partner of his former firm’s Los Angeles and Palo Alto offices. In September it brought in Neil Barofsky, a former Manhattan federal prosecutor who served as the special inspector general to the government’s 2008 bank bailout program.
The firm has lost 11 partners in the early part of 2014.
Addressing this year’s departures, Levy said, “Our overall partner head count has not materially changed over the last several years. Our attrition over the last year was generally in line with our normal partner attrition—27 partners left in 2013 and 11 in 2014. Departing partners often go in-house to clients, join the government or accept positions with public interest organizations. Some join other firms and others retire.”
So far this year, the firm has been tapped for two high-profile engagements. Last week, General Motors Co. hired Valukas to colead an investigation into the company’s handling of complaints related to sudden vehicle shutdowns that led to at least 13 deaths. And in January, partner Reid Schar was retained by a New Jersey General Assembly committee investigating last year’s shutdown of several lanes of the George Washington Bridge. The Asbury Park Press reported Friday that Jenner has so far billed the state legislature roughly $200,000 for its work on the matter.
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.