Perkins Coie Washington, D.C. offices. June 19, 2015. Photo by Diego M. Radzinschi/THE NATIONAL LAW JOURNAL. (Diego M. Radzinschi)
Perkins Coie posted solid financial growth in 2016, with gross revenue edging up 4.3 percent to $781 million while profits per equity partner grew by 7.3 percent to just less than $1.2 million.
The 921-lawyer, Seattle-based firm’s profits per partner of $1.18 million and revenue per lawyer of $850,000 mark record highs, according to managing partner John Devaney, a longtime litigator who took over the firm leadership role in 2015. The firm also posted total net income of $206 million, which constitutes a 1.5 percent bump up compared with Perkins Coie’s 2015 financial results.
“We had some really good successes for clients across most of our practice groups,” Devaney said. “In the end, I think that’s what drove our strong financial results.”
Devaney said several areas of the firm were particularly busy in 2016, including a developing expertise in the financial technology and virtual currency realm. Perkins Coie represented Overstock.com in a first-of-its-kind public offering of securities traded on a digital platform based on blockchain technology. The firm also engaged in more traditional transactional work, including an advising role for Molson Coors Brewing Co. in a $12 billion acquisition of SABMiller plc’s 58 percent stake in MillerCoors LLC—a deal that closed in October.
Perkins Coie’s political law practice, which counted as clients Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and dozens of other campaigns across the country, had a busy year in 2016, Devaney said. On the litigation side, Perkins Coie helped guide client Zillow Group Inc. to a pretrial settlement in a trade secrets and executive poaching lawsuit brought by the real estate listing company’s rival, Realtor.com operator Move Inc. That suit settled for $130 million, although the initial damages request had been as high as $2 billion.
“For us that was a very significant, high-profile representation that had a very successful outcome,” Devaney said.
Perkins Coie’s solid financials in 2016 were accompanied by slight drops in most lawyer head count categories. The total number of lawyers at the firm fell to 921 in 2016 from 938 in 2015, a 1.8 percent decline. The size of the equity partnership also contracted, with 175 equity partners in 2016 compared with 185 in the prior year—a 5.5 percent drop. The total number of partners fell 1 percent to 468 in 2016, compared with 472 in 2015, although Perkins Coie picked up 6 additional nonequity partners, with the total rising to 293.
Devaney attributed the changes in head count largely to retirements among several lawyers at the firm, as well as other members of the baby-boom generation phasing out their practices as they approach retirement. But, Devaney added, Perkins Coie also remained active in the lateral hiring market, bringing roughly 25 new lawyers on board in 2016.
Among its hires, Perkins Coie picked up a four-lawyer investment management group from Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel in New York, as well as a four-lawyer trusts and estates group from Schiff Hardin in San Francisco.
Devaney said he expects that Perkins Coie will focus future expansion efforts on key markets, such as New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and the firm’s historical home of Seattle. It will also focus on such practice areas as privacy and data security, private equity and M&A, and emerging companies, he said.
Beyond the firm’s 2016 numbers, Devaney stressed that Perkins Coie has maintained a “culture that distinguishes us from many law firms,” and noted that Perkins Coie was recently recognized for the 15th straight year as one of Fortune Magazine’s top places to work.
“When you’re in this seat managing 2,000-plus people [and] you’re viewed as a good place to work, it’s something that makes us very proud,” Devaney said.