Akerman 2014 logo (Akerman 2014 logo)
Akerman reported 4 percent growth in 2013 revenue, profit per partner and lawyers along with an 8 percent increase in net income.
The revenue growth rate is slower than in the past two years when the firm posted records.
The Miami-based firm, Florida’s largest by attorneys, grew to 523 attorneys from 501. Akerman also boosted its equity partner ranks 4 percent to 187 from 180 and non-equity partners 7 percent to 87 from 81.
Profit per partner rose to $595,000 from $575,000. The firm also bumped up its profit margin one percentage point to 37 percent. Revenue per lawyer was flat at $570,000.
Akerman has been in growth mode in recent years, hiring scores of seasoned laterals, launching an emerging companies practice, leasing new space in West Palm Beach and opening a Chicago office.
But Andrew Smulian, chairman and CEO of Akerman, said he is most pleased with the firm’s growth in its New York City office, which has expanded 34 percent over the last year to 70 lawyers.
“We see our success through the eyes of our clients,” he said. “We believe that when our clients succeed, we succeed. I’m thrilled with the firm’s performance through the last three years.”
A $11 million renovation is underway in Akerman’s downtown Miami headquarters at the Suntrust International Center, but Smulian said the firm has not yet decided whether it will renew its lease.
Bill Brennan, a law firm consultant with Brennan Strategy LLC of Philadelphia, said he rated Akerman a “B plus” for its 2013 performance.
“It’s a very difficult marketplace, but they’ve been able to manage their firm’s growth proactively,” he said. “They’ve avoided a downward slide which has affected many other law firms. Still, their profit per partner has grown only slightly, so it’s not a stellar performance.”
Brennan gave Akerman kudos for opening the offices in New York and Chicago, which he considers is essential for a national law firm. The firm will need at least 100 attorneys in New York before it is considered a major presence, he noted.
Akerman has made a dramatic turnaround in the past few years. In 2009, the firm reported a 30 percent drop in non-equity shareholders, capping a difficult year marked by rapid turnover, the collapse of a proposed merger with defunct WolfBlock and the revelation that the firm missed its budget. Non-equity shareholders also suffered a 15 percent drop in pay.
In 2012, The Am Law 200 survey ranked Akerman 108th with gross revenue of $286 million and net income of $104 million.