Douglas Clark of Wilson Sonsini. (Courtesy photo)
Coming off a strong performance in 2015, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati posted more mixed financial results in 2016. Gross revenue at the Palo Alto, California-based firm rose 2.7 percent to $755 million, while revenue per lawyer (RPL) dipped 4.7 percent to $1,005,000. And after a 22.6 percent leap in 2015, Wilson Sonsini’s profits per partner (PPP) dropped 11.1 percent to $1.97 million.
However, managing partner Doug Clark said the firm saw strong activity across all its practice areas in 2016. He attributed the decline in RPL to head count growth: The firm added 52 lawyers, an expansion of 7.5 percent. It also opened a new office in Boston with three partners, including new hire Mark Solakian, the former general counsel of the biofuels company Joule Unlimited Technologies Inc.
Solakian was one of four partners Wilson Sonsini hired laterally in 2016. The others were Daniel Glazer, who left Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson to lead Wilson Sonsini’s technology transactions practice; Lowell Segal, who returned to the firm’s life sciences group after eight years at Ropes & Gray; and chairman Larry Sonsini’s son Matthew Sonsini, who rejoined the firm after eight years in multiple leadership roles at The Sobrato Organization, a real estate development and investment group that also includes a philanthropic arm.
“Fundamentally we had a great year,” Clark said. “It really was a year when we invested in the business.”
In the previous fiscal year, 2015, Wilson Sonsini saw double-digit gains in gross revenue, net income and PPP. But the firm handled about 20 more transactions in 2016, Clark said, for a total of 150 transactions. Notable deals included representing LinkedIn Corp. in its $26.2 billion sale to Microsoft Corp. and software provider NetSuite Inc. in its $9.3 billion sale to Oracle Corp.
Wilson Sonsini’s capital markets practice particularly thrived in the second half of the year, when the firm advised clients that included the accounting software company BlackLine Inc. and the cloud computing company Nutanix Inc. on their initial public offerings. At the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, the firm helped Netflix Inc., Hulu LLC, Spotify and Vimeo beat an infringement claim for transporting media files. And its pharmaceuticals practice grew by about 20 percent in both demand and size, Clark said.
Wilson Sonsini is looking forward to a successful year ahead, Clark said. The firm plans to expand in San Francisco, New York, Washington, D.C., and Wilmington, Delaware. It is already seeing increased activity in its antitrust practice, Clark said, and his expectations for transactions and capital markets are strong.
“Our growth is driven by client demand and the primary industries that we serve,” Clark said. “Technology, life sciences and the finance services industry I think will have a very good year.”
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