Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy saw its profits per equity partner rise nearly 11 percent in 2017 to $3.46 million, while its gross revenue also rose substantially, to more than $916 million, according to preliminary ALM reporting.
The 690-lawyer firm’s 2017 financial results mark the fifth straight year of solid growth for Milbank. Gross revenues were up 7.1 percent over the prior year, climbing to $916.54 million in 2017 compared with $855.59 million in 2016. The partner profit figure of $3.46 million in 2017 marks a 10.9 percent increase over the $3.12 million in profits per partner that Milbank posted in 2016.
The firm’s recent run of financial growth has coincided with the leadership tenure of Milbank chairman Scott Edelman, a former federal prosecutor who took the position in 2013 after it had been led for a long stretch by Milbank’s prior chairman, Mel Immergut. Comparing 2017 with the firm’s 2013 results, Milbank’s revenue and net income have grown by nearly 30 percent and more than 27 percent, respectively. Over the same period, profits per partner have risen by nearly $1 million.
“The firm’s been enormously successful over the last five years,” Edelman said. “Morale is very high, business is great and I’m optimistic about the future.”
In 2017, Milbank posted a net income of $502.43 million, a bump up of 8.5 percent compared with the prior year. Revenue per lawyer, meanwhile, grew 3 percent to $1.33 million. The total number of lawyers at Milbank grew by 4 percent, rising to 690 in 2017 from 664 in 2016. The number of nonequity partners grew from 10 in 2016 to 14 in 2017, while the equity partnership ranks decreased by 2.7 percent, dropping to 145 in 2017.
Edelman said the drop in the equity partner numbers was the result of a few departures and retirements, and a relatively small amount of lateral hiring in 2017, when Milbank brought on three new partners. But he also noted that just a month and a half into 2018, the firm has already brought on six new partners. Based in London, those include a pair of high-yield debt specialists who joined from Shearman & Sterling, and a four-lawyer restructuring group that joined from Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft.
The firm’s 2017 financial results came alongside a busy stretch for lawyers in a number of different areas, according to Edelman.
“Everything’s positive, not just the dollars, but the growth of the practices,” the Milbank chairman said. “The success of last year was not a one-trick event. It was really deep and across the whole firm.”
Specifically, the firm’s litigation specialists kept active in 2017, securing a victory for mutual fund adviser Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. in a long-running case in which investors accused the company of charging excessive fees. In late February 2017, a New Jersey federal judge threw out the investors’ claims following a rare trial in a mutual fund excessive-fee case. It marked the second time Milbank has successfully handled such a trial within the past couple of years.
The firm’s restructuring lawyers continued representing parent company Caesars Entertainment Corp. in connection with an $18 billion reorganization of the casino and resort company’s main operating unit. Milbank also represented an ad hoc group of lenders to offshore drilling company Ocean Rig, helping secure a successful restructuring of some $3 billion in debt.
Edelman also said the firm’s Latin America-focused transactions practice had a strong year. Among other matters, the firm represented a group of international lenders in a renewable energy project financing in Chile. In that deal, Aela Energia, a joint venture between private equity firm Actis and Ireland’s Mainstream Renewable Power, secured financing to construct two wind farms, reportedly one of Chile’s largest wind power deals. Separately, the firm advised Actis on an acquisition valued at almost $1.26 billion of power generation company InterGen’s portfolio in Mexico.