Gray Robinson Miami office. Photo: J. Albert Diaz

GrayRobinson reported a slight drop in revenue and head count last year as the firm looks to solidify its culture and streamline its operations.

The firm posted a small decline in revenue growth in 2018 of 0.8 percent, from $156.5 million in 2017 to $155.2 million last year. Net income went from $70.5 million to $69.1 million, dropping 2 percent.

Revenue per lawyer rose, however, from $527,000 to $562,000—an increase of 6.6 percent. And profits per equity partner rose 7.2 percent, from $434,000 to $464,000. The increase came as the number of equity partners dropped 8.6 percent, from 163 to 149. The total lawyer head count also fell, from 297 to 276—a decline of 7.1 percent.

Notable departures included Steven Zelkowtiz, the firm’s managing partner in Miami, who left for Fox Rothschild. In August, bankruptcy attorney Steven Solomon took over the Miami office.

GrayRobinson president Mayanne Downs said the firm’s main priority is to provide effective services to its clients. To her, there’s a sort of tension between size and effectiveness. The firm prides itself on the autonomy it can provide to its attorneys: there are few committees, and attorneys can set their own rates, which Downs said is a big plus to recruiting.

“Our head count has gone down from 297 to 276, yet our revenue has been reduced very little,” she said. “When you can grow your profits per partner, when you can streamline your organization while preserving revenue growth, it feels good for everybody … We’ve never sought to be the largest law firm.”

Looking to solidify its identity, GrayRobinson made what Downs called “a serious long bet” by opening an office in Washington, D.C.—the firm’s first venue outside of Florida in its 50-year history.

To Downs, that expansion represented the firm doubling down on its lucrative government and lobbying practices. In addition to lobbying work, the firm brought in a million dollars worth of business litigating the midterm recounts.

“Our clients have been asking us to take the same level of understanding and ability to provide access and influence in the state to the federal level,” said Downs. “We resisted that for awhile because we wanted to focus on Florida.”

As the firm looks toward 2019, Downs said the firm is looking at three particular themes.

The first is to “right-size physical spaces.” Downs said the firm wants to redesign its office spaces to encourage collaboration and efficiency. Secondly, GrayRobinson is looking to expand its services in the firm’s newly minted D.C. office. As of now, the satellite office is a lobbying shop, but Downs said clients are asking if the firm could handle regulatory banking work in the D.C. area.

Lastly, Downs said the firm is looking to bolster a few key practice areas, including corporate, alcohol regulation, appellate and family law.

“There’s a shortage of family law lawyers who can handle high-profile clients,” she said.