For the 20th year running, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison posted higher profits last year as its lawyers juggled an abundance of billion-dollar lawsuits and multibillion-dollar transactions, the firm reported.
Paul Weiss raked in $1.109 billion in revenues last year, up by 7.1 percent from $1.036 billion in 2014. Growth in profits per equity partner kept pace, as the firm’s all-equity partnership saw average take-home profits surge past the $4 million mark for the first time. PPP stood at $4.09 million, up 6.4 percent from $3.845 million in 2014.
“We’ve been very fortunate to continue this extraordinary streak,” said Paul Weiss chair Brad Karp. “And this year again, we saw record demand across the firm, especially in our litigation and corporate practices.”
Revenue per lawyer also rose significantly, rising 6.4 percent from $1.1 million to $1.17 million. After jumping by more than 10 percent last year, lawyer head count remained relatively flat at 949 lawyers, up 0.6 percent.
In contrast to some Wall Street peer firms, Paul Weiss’ partner ranks grew again in 2015, the 20th straight year of partner growth, according to Karp. There were 140 partners, up from 135, a jump of 3.7 percent.
“We continue to invest in our practice strengths and avoid the temptation to chase new practice areas or expand our footprint around the globe,” Karp said.
Though the firm raised rates modestly—Karp would not indicate how much—the “lion’s share of the increase in revenues was due to increased demand,” Karp said, adding that partner and associate hours were both higher.
In a record year for M&A, Paul Weiss captured some of the biggest deals. Among them: representing Time Warner Cable, first in the $45.2 billion bid by Comcast Corp., later withdrawn due to regulatory concerns, and then in the company’s still-pending $55 billion merger with Charter Communications Inc.
Since top private equity lateral partner Taurie Zeitzer arrived from Kirkland & Ellis in January, the firm has increased the number of large deals it has handled for Apollo Global Management LLC, including the acquisition of ASG Security and Protection 1 and the acquisition of several businesses from OM Group Inc., both in the spring. The firm’s private equity transactional practice was “off the charts,” Karp said, with clients including Oak Hill Capital Partners, General Atlantic and KPS Capital Partners especially active.
Paul Weiss’ litigation group was also engaged full-throttle in 2015. (The American Lawyer featured Paul Weiss in its biennial Litigation Department of the Year issue in January.) The firm had a significant role in several major cross-border enforcement actions involving alleged benchmark rate-rigging by global financial institutions. Concluded matters included advising Deutsche Bank AG in its $2.5 billion U.S. and U.K. settlement over the manipulation of the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) in April.
Partner Theodore Wells Jr. led a large Paul Weiss team for the National Football League investigating the circumstances surrounding the New England Patriots’ “Deflategate” scandal, presenting the NFL with a 243-page report last May. And a settlement in NFL concussion litigation, negotiated with the firm’s help in 2014, was approved in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in April.