Hugh Verrier. (Courtesy photo)
White & Case’s revenue grew 7.1 percent to $1.63 billion in 2016, a record high for the 1,957-lawyer firm. Revenue per lawyer rose 5 percent to $835,000, while profits per partner inched up 1.5 percent to $2.05 million.
These gains come about a year-and-a half into a five-year strategic plan for the firm. Under that plan, the firm intends to grow to about 500 lawyers in both London and New York. Each city had about 350 lawyers in 2015, and the firm has since increased its presence by 20 percent in New York and 12 percent in London.
“Our challenge is how to grow, but keep driving profitability,” said chairman Hugh Verrier, who is serving his third term in that role.
In the United Kingdom, White & Case hired Clifford Chance global banking co-head Patrick Sarch, as well as the head of Ashurst’s London disputes practice Mark Clarke and co-head of Berwin Leighton Paisner’s Europe and Middle East tax practice, Michael Wistow.
In New York, the firm hired U.S. Department of Justice associate deputy attorney general Virginia Romano. The firm also lost the global head of its investment funds group, Monica Arora, who left for Proskauer Rose in September.
The new hires are not limited to New York and London. In 2016, White & Case launched in Australia with the hire of 10 Herbert Smith Freehills partners. (Herbert Smith Freehills recently sued the partner group, saying it wants to extend a six-month restraint period for departing partners.) White & Case also hired four McDermott Will & Emery partners, three of whom launched a new Boston office for White & Case that will focus on white-collar litigation at its outset.
The firm’s significant matters in 2016 included its representation of Italian creditors who held $900 million in Argentine bonds. The bondholders settled with Argentina in a case before the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes.
White & Case is representing Anthem Inc., both in its proposed acquisition of Cigna Corp. and in related antitrust litigation. On Wednesday, Anthem said it filed a suit to block Cigna from leaving the deal.
White & Case topped Bloomberg LP’s 2016 M&A legal advisory rankings, which measure global announced deals by volume, though it didn’t make it onto the company’s ranking of principal advisers on global announced deals. Among the firm’s largest deals was its representation of Canadian utility company Fortis Inc. in its acquisition of the Michigan-based electric transmission company ITC Holdings Corp. for $11.3 billion.
White & Case represented Kaupthing, the largest of three Icelandic banks to face insolvency. At the firm, 290 lawyers helped the bank navigate more than $45 billion in liabilities.
The firm’s overall lawyer head count grew by 2.3 percent to 1,957 in 2016. The equity partner class expanded by 4.2 percent to 299 partners, while the nonequity partner ranks increased by 1.9 percent to 160 in 2016.
Contact Nell Gluckman at email@example.com or on Twitter: @NellGluckman