Hogan Lovells joined the $2 billion club in global revenues for the first time in 2017, despite what the firm described as a relatively slow start to the year.
Overall revenue grew nearly six percentage points, reaching $2.036 billion. Profits per equity partner increased 2.4 percent, topping $1.28 million, and revenue per lawyer ticked up almost 3 percent to just under $760,000, according to preliminary ALM reporting.
Hogan Lovells ranked No. 8 by revenue among the Am Law 100 last year, based on its performance in 2016. This year’s rankings will be released in the May issue of The American Lawyer.
CEO Stephen Immelt said the market was “a bit all over the place” for the firm in 2017, with the second half of the year producing much stronger results than the first six months.
The U.S.- and U.K.-rooted firm saw its work in the Americas bring in a majority of its total billings in 2017. Globally, the firm said its corporate practice represented about 32 percent of total billings, while litigation, arbitration and employment accounted for 28 percent. Government and regulatory matters generated 16 percent, finance 14 percent, and IP, media and technology 10 percent, the firm said.
There was a nearly 5 percent uptick in billable hours growth over 2016, the firm said.
Speaking from Hogan Lovells’ Silicon Valley office, Washington-based Immelt touted his firm’s work advising Oracle on its purchase of cloud-based solutions company Aconex, a transaction valued at more than $1 billion.
He pointed to the tech sector and Chinese market as areas for robust growth in 2018.
“I view 2018 as a year where we’re going to work on what we’ve got, and focus on execution,” Immelt said. “It is more critical than ever that law firms are very clear about what they’re trying to do for clients.”
Immelt highlighted Hogan Lovells work advising the China-based telecommunications company ZTE Corp. in its efforts to comply with the terms of a settlement agreement with the U.S. government.
ZTE agreed last year to plead guilty and pay $1.19 billion in fines as part of a settlement for shipping electronics to Iran and North Korea. The company also came under fire last week from U.S. senators who expressed concern during an Intelligence Committee hearing that the Chinese government would use ZTE to gain access to sensitive American technology.
Immelt said the firm’s cross-border strength is a key draw for clients, and the firm noted its work on behalf of pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly in a U.K. Supreme Court patent ruling and its role as adviser in Paysafe’s nearly 3 billion pound sale to a private equity consortium.
In the U.S., Hogan Lovells combined with Collora, a Boston firm, last year, and it bolstered its M&A technology practice by hiring three partners led by Richard Climan in Silicon Valley. The firm said it added 37 total lateral partner hires globally last year and promoted 31 partners internally.
Among departures last year, Washington, D.C.-based partner Ty Cobb left Hogan Lovells in July for Trump’s White House, where he has helped coordinate the response to special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.
Immelt also touted his firm’s appellate practice, which has led the charge against the president’s travel ban in the federal courts, and the work of the firm’s most recognizable partner, Neal Katyal, at the Supreme Court. Katyal argued nearly 10 percent of all cases during the high court’s 2016 term, with its last oral arguments ending in April 2017. In January he was named an American Lawyer litigator of the year.
As the firm approaches the eighth anniversary of D.C.-based Hogan & Hartson and London-based Lovells joining forces, Immelt said the success of that union is more than evident. The deal that produced Hogan Lovells in 2010 remains a model for transatlantic law firm mergers, even if some have questioned whether the combined firm was aggressive enough out of the gate.
Immelt will remain atop the firm’s leadership as CEO, alongside London-based deputy CEO David Hudd, through June 30, 2020. The two men have led the firm since July 2014, and have promoted the firm’s advice to clients on the impact of policy changes in Washington and the ramifications of the U.K. Brexit vote.
While political instability could pose unforeseen challenges in the coming year, Immelt said he thinks “plenty of money” remains out there waiting to be invested 10 years after the onset of the financial crisis.
“I feel very optimistic in terms of the broader indicators,” Immelt said. “The macroeconomic picture is more positive today than it’s been for some time.”