Therese Pritchard
Therese Pritchard ()

Bryan Cave’s gross revenue slipped for the third year in a row, but profits per partner and revenue per lawyer jumped to new firm highs in 2016.

The St. Louis-based Am Law 100 firm had $608 million in gross revenue last year, down 1.5 percent from what it took in the year before. But Bryan Cave’s other financial metrics were up. Profits per partner rose 7.5 percent, to $865,000, while revenue per lawyer increased 2.9 percent, to $700,000.

“We’re obviously very pleased with our year,” said Therese Pritchard, who became the first female chair of Bryan Cave in late 2014.

Pritchard attributed Bryan Cave’s performance in 2016 to strong performances from the firm’s antitrust, corporate finance and M&A groups, as well as its intellectual property and white-collar defense practices.

“Our services in those areas are in demand and I think that’s because of the quality of the work we’re doing and the client services that we provide,” Pritchard said.

Last year, Bryan Cave represented Quintiles Transnational Holdings Inc. in its $9 billion all-stock merger with IMF Health Holdings Inc. The firm also represented electronic discovery services provider Document Technologies Inc. on its $1 billion acquisition by legal software company Epiq Systems Inc. Bryan Cave also advised Terex Corp. on antitrust issues related a revised $1.3 billion deal with Finnish construction crane maker Konecranes plc.

Bryan Cave did make some lateral hires in 2016, snagging McCarter & English corporate partner David Kolodny in New York and Hogan Lovells transactional partner Sarah Atkinson in London. Despite those additions, Bryan Cave’s head count fell 4.4 percent in 2016, to 870, down 40 lawyers from the 910 it had the year prior.

The total number of equity partners at Bryan Cave also dropped 2.2 percent last year, to 199. Pritchard attributed the decline in part to normal attrition, but also the exits of lawyers from the firm’s mortgage-related litigation group.

“We have made a decision that as those people leave who were focused on mortgage litigation, we don’t replace them,” Pritchard said.

In late 2015, Bryan Cave was reportedly in position to acquire struggling Dickstein Shapiro, but the Washington, D.C.-based firm nixed the accord and instead pursued another deal with Blank Rome in early 2016. While Bryan Cave has no mergers or combinations on the near horizon, Pritchard noted that the firm is always interested in exploring opportunities to expand its strategic position.

Bryan Cave has a track record in that regard, having absorbed Denver-based Holme Roberts & Owen in 2012; Atlanta-based Powell Goldstein in 2009; and New York’s Robinson, Silverman, Pearce, Aronsohn & Berman in 2002. Bryan Cave also held tie-up talks with Squire Patton Boggs predecessor Squire Sanders that fizzled out a decade ago.

“We certainly continue to be interested in looking for firms who have practices that are synergistic with our and potentially growing through those kind of combinations,” Pritchard said.