Henry Walker, Kilpatrick Townsend (handout)
Gross revenue inched higher at Kilpatrick last year, rising 1.2 percent to $416.5 million.
“It was another solid year,” said the firm’s chairman, Henry Walker IV. “We’ve had four years of solid growth.”
Revenue had remained stable in 2015 after a 6 percent increase in 2014.
Revenue per lawyer increased by $10,000 in 2016, reaching $725,000. But profit per partner dipped by $15,000 to $915,000, despite a $3.5 million increase in net income, because the firm added a net of five equity partners, for 114. The firm reported 249 partners in all.
Head count was roughly unchanged, at 573 lawyers last year.
The firm’s busiest practices, where revenue increased by five percent or more, Walker said, were corporate, capital markets, real estate, global sourcing and technology, government investigations and trademark law.
That included a “significant amount” of trademark protection work for Facebook and Instagram, he said.
“We are a leading firm for tech and social media companies, such as AT&T, Apple, Facebook, Google, Oracle, Amazon and Instagram,” Walker said.
Kilpatrick picked up Atlanta-based UPS Inc. as a new trademark client last year. UPS’s general counsel, Norman Brothers Jr. told, Corporate Counsel, an affiliate of the Daily Report, that Kilpatrick’s reputation, global reach and an aggressive alternative fee arrangement won him over.
Of all firms filing trademark litigation, Kilpatrick ranked No. 2 in defense cases (146) and No. 4 in plaintiffs cases (366) from January 2009 through March 2016, according to a Lex Machina report.
In a big deal for the golf world, Kilpatrick advised TaylorMade Golf on its endorsement agreement with Tiger Woods to use its clubs. The Chicago Cubs, Major League Baseball and Adidas are other sports-related clients that use Kilpatrick for branding and trademark work.
In M&A, Kilpatrick advised Campus Crest Communities, based in Charlotte, North Carolina, in its $1.6 billion sale to a real estate private equity fund, Harrison Street Real Estate Capital.
The firm was IP counsel for Expedia in its $3.9 billion acquisition of HomeAway, which owns a portfolio of about a dozen online vacation-home rental brands.
Walker said Kilpatrick continued its push to collaborate across practice groups, with multiple practice areas doing work for 44 of the firm’s top 50 clients.
Kilpatrick made the news in January for its pro bono representation of Hameed Khalid Darweesh, a visa client who became the “face of the legal resistance” to President Donald Trump’s order temporarily barring selected immigrants in January.
Darweesh was detained at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York, even though he had a visa. His flight arrived at JFK on Jan. 27 an hour after Trump issued the temporary ban on immigrants from Iraq and six other Middle Eastern countries.
It had taken Kilpatrick partner Jonathan Polonsky, City University of New York law students and the International Refugee Assistance Project almost three years to secure the special immigrant visa for Darweesh, who spent a decade working for the U.S. Army in Iraq as a translator and engineer.
Polonsky and Darweesh’s other lawyers filed a habeas suit, Darweesh v. Trump, challenging Trump’s order the next day for their client and those in similar situations, and a federal judge in Brooklyn stayed the ban.
As a participant in Clemency Project 2014, which closed at the end of the Obama administration, Kilpatrick had about 60 attorneys volunteer 4,700 hours to review and prepare the cases of 52 prospective petitioners. Kilpatrick won federal prison sentence commutations for 14 of the 26 petitioners it selected, who’d mostly been serving life sentences, ranking No. 4 out of 77 large firms, it said.
Kilpatrick added six lateral partners last year, down from a record high of 23 lateral partners in 2015, when it added 13 partners and other lawyers from Crouch & Ramey to start a Dallas office.
In Washington, it scooped up a five-lawyer team led by partners Larry Prosen and Gunjan Talati from Thompson Hine that handles construction, infrastructure projects and government contracts. The government contracts expertise augments the firm’s established construction law practice, it said.
In San Diego, the firm landed class action defense litigator Nancy Stagg from Foley & Lardner to head its West Coast class action team.
Some former partners returned to the fold. In Washington, Keith Harper rejoined Kilpatrick in February after serving as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Council for three years. Harper, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, was the first member of a federally recognized Indian tribe to serve as a U.S. ambassador. Harper, who handles Native American matters, was plaintiffs class counsel in the landmark suit over the government’s mishandling of Indian trust funds, Cobell v. Salazar, which the government, after years of litigation, settled for $3.4 billion in 2009.
Trademark partner Allisen Pawlenty-Altman rejoined the firm after a two-year stint at Amazon. Litigator Chad Hansen in March returned to the Winston-Salem office from a position as in-house counsel for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina.
The firm lost Gary Joyner, the head of its Raleigh, North Carolina, office, who died after a sudden illness in August. A noted North Carolina real estate attorney, Joyner helped start the Raleigh office for predecessor firm Petree, Stockton and Robinson.
Another firm leader, James Gilliland, died in a tragic shooting in October. Gilliland, who had chaired predecessor firm Townsend & Townsend & Crew prior to the merger that created Kilpatrick Townsend in 2010, was returning to his home in El Cerrito, California, when an unknown assailant confronted him on his porch and fatally shot him.
In Atlanta, a six-lawyer construction law team decamped for New Orleans-based Jones Walker, led by partners Neal Sweeney, Joe Henner and Chad Theriot. Tax partner Charles “Chuck” Hodges II joined Jones Day, and financial services litigator Cindy Hanson joined Troutman Sanders.
Among other departures, Linda Du became senior trademark and copyright counsel for Apple in San Francisco.