Cahill Gordon & Reindel, whose finances float with the capital markets, took a slight hit to its bottom line as a result of economic volatility in 2015.
The firm’s gross revenue dipped 4.1 percent, to $364.5 million, while net income dropped 7.1 percent, to $208 million. Profits per partner were also down last year, slipping another 7.1 percent, to $3.36 million, while revenue per lawyer inched up 0.4 percent, to $1.17 million.
Total lawyer head count for Cahill fell 4.6 percent in 2015, to 312, while the number of equity partners at the firm remained flat at 62. Total partners grew by two last year, reaching 72.
William Hartnett, chairman of Cahill’s executive committee, said the firm weathered the downturn much better than might have been expected, while also seeking to build up other areas of expertise.
“You’re always disappointed when you don’t hit your goals; however, there were a lot of real positives last year,” said Hartnett of the firm, which was also down in 2014 after two record-setting years.
Hartnett explained that while Cahill faced two major “headwinds” last year—including settling a number of big cases for McGraw-Hill Financial Inc. in January 2015 and enduring the most prolonged capital markets slowdown since 2009 during the last two quarters—its major financial metrics only slipped by single-digits.
While Cahill has not made any structural changes amid the recent capital markets downturn, Hartnett said the firm has been eyeing an expansion of additional corporate areas (the firm is known for its expertise in leveraged finance). He said that over the last seven years, corporate expansion outside the firm’s cornerstone capital markets practice has been difficult, with resources fully committed to meeting client demand in the finance space. Hartnett added that his firm’s recent investments in litigation have also started to yield returns.
In March 2015, Cahill recruited Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft partner Bradley Bondi to serve as a new leader of its securities enforcement and regulatory practices in New York and Washington, D.C. In October, Cahill picked up another New York litigation partner in Pierre Gentin, the musically inclined former in-house litigation chief at banking giant Credit Suisse Group AG, for which the firm has previously done both litigation and corporate work. (Cahill is currently advising Credit Suisse on civil litigation and a regulatory investigation in the wake of the Swiss banking giant’s alleged manipulation of the London Interbank Offered Rate.)
Across the Atlantic, Cahill launched an English law practice last year by landing London-based litigation partner Richard Kelly from Shearman & Sterling. Around the same time, Cahill obtained authorization from the U.K.’s Solicitors Regulation Authority allowing it to be licensed as an alternative business structure in the country. Cahill did see two longtime partners—corporate, pro bono and co-administrative chief Howard “Peter” Sloane and former real estate head Athy O’Keeffe—retire from the firm at the end of 2015.
As for major litigation matters last year, Cahill continues to represent McGraw-Hill and Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC on cases stemming from S&P’s ratings of mortgage-backed securities, securing 29 dismissals to date. The firm also won big for Amarin Pharma Inc. in a First Amendment suit that challenged the U.S. Food and Drug Administration restrictions on off-label promotion.
Cahill also advised regular client Time Warner Cable Inc. on a number of matters, including a proposed nationwide class arbitration on behalf of Internet service subscribers. Other blue-chip clients in the litigation space for Cahill include Deutsche Bank AG, Qualcomm Inc., Toyota Motor Corp. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
On the corporate side, Cahill represented financiers behind Dell Inc.’s $67 billion buy of EMC Corp., Western Digital Corp.’s $19 billion play for SanDisk Corp. and Charter Communications Inc.’s $79 billion deal for Time Warner Cable. The firm also advised Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc. on its bottling megamerger with Coca-Cola Iberian Partners SA and Germany’s Coca-Cola Erfrischungsgetränke AG, as well as The Empire District Electric Co. in its proposed $2.4 billion sale last month to Algonquin Power & Utilities Corp.
Hartnett said that going forward, he fully expects Cahill to get back to firing on all cylinders as it did in 2012 and 2013, when the firm hit record levels for revenue and profitability. At the same time, Hartnett added that the market “has to turn around relatively early in the second quarter for us to hit our targets [in 2016].”
Becoming less reliant on Cahill’s capital markets practice will also benefit the firm in the long term, Hartnett said.