Shearman & Sterling climbed another rung up the profitability ladder in 2014, boosting profits per partner by 5.8 percent, from $1.8 million to about $1.9 million last year, after clambering three steps up the ladder the prior year with a jump of nearly $300,000 per partner. The firm recorded more modest increases of 1.5 percent in revenue per lawyer and 3 percent in gross revenue.
“To be up as much as we are after 2013 is terrific,” says senior partner Creighton Condon. “It cements our momentum.”
Condon reported a blowout year in litigation—which the firm has pushed from 20 percent to 30 percent of revenues in three years. The firm’s dispute lawyers twice made front-page news, by overturning hedge fund manager Todd Newman’s insider trading conviction on appeal, and winning a record $50 billion arbitration award for the Yukos majority shareholders against Russia.
The firm’s highest-profile capital markets deal was the U.S. IPO of Chinese social media champion Weibo Corp. On the M&A front, Shearman advised Sun Pharmaceutical Industries in its $4 billion purchase of Ranbaxy Laboratories; Albemarle Corporation in its $6 billion acquisition of chemical maker Rockwood Holdings; and by Zillow Inc. in its $3.5 billion buy of property website Trulia ,(The latter deal cleared antitrust hurdles only two weeks ago.)
Shearman’s splashiest move on the lateral market in 2014 was to nab six partners in disputes and finance from Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe. Perhaps its most notable lateral loss was Latin American M&A head Michael McGuinness, who left for Jones Day.
While the firm ticked up only 1.5 percent in head count in 2014, it made 13 partners on Jan. 1, its largest crop since 2008. “We, as a general matter, are happy staying trim,” says Condon. “We’ll let the business grow as it grows to serve our client’s high-end needs.”