(Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/NLJ)
McGuireWoods, a global firm rooted in Virginia and Washington, D.C., found some growth in a stagnant legal market last year by looking to laterals.
The firm’s gross revenue grew by about 4 percent, to $682 million in 2016, according to ALM reporting. Revenue per lawyer increased by only $14,000, or 2 percent, to $689,000. The firm said it raised its billing rates last year by less than 3 percent.
The firm increased its total number of lawyers by 25, to 990. The equity partnership grew by 10 partners, to 184. (About 40 percent of the firm’s partners hold equity stakes.) Because of that increase, profits per equity partner decreased by about 4 percent, to $1.005 million on average, the firm said.
“Demand was challenging but we were happy with the revenue growth we had,” managing partner Thomas Cabaniss said. “What I’m proudest about is we’re finally getting recognition for being a fine firm.”
The firm said it hired 28 lateral partners throughout the year. About 15 total partners left the firm in 2016, according to ALM RivalEdge data.
“I think we are well-positioned,” Cabaniss said of McGuireWoods’ prospects for 2017 and beyond. “We see a lot of the continuing convergence of projects among our clients. We expect to be survivors.”
On the transactional side, the firm’s London contingent advised Wells Fargo Bank in helping to finance Anheuser-Busch InBev when it acquired SABMiller for $107 billion. Several banks were involved in the $75 million loan deal.
In litigation, McGuireWoods chairman Richard Cullen represented former FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who was ensnared in one of the largest sports scandals in recent memory. The firm also represents Aaron Schock, the congressman who was indicted for misusing government funds, and acts as an independent investigator in an audit of past police shootings in Chicago. Partner George Terwilliger III, a former deputy U.S. attorney general who joined the firm two years ago, is involved in both of those matters.
McGuireWoods’ expansion into San Francisco last spring came as financial technology lawyers are on the ascent industrywide, and as more East Coast firms are looking to go West. The firm hired partners David Powell and David Reidy from Reed Smith to lead the office and the fintech practice, respectively. The firm now has 11 partners in the office, which is its 22nd location. The firm also had its first full year in a strategic alliance with a law firm in Shanghai.
The firm moved from a temporary space to a permanent office at Embarcadero Center in San Francisco this month.
McGuireWoods is continuing to seek out splashy news hires in 2017. This week, the firm announced it will add Michael Adams, a retired Navy commander who was legal counsel to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Department of Defense since 2013, as a partner in the data privacy and security team. He’ll be based in Charlotte.