It was a good year for Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, which gained 190 lawyers for a total of 647. That 42 percent growth was the largest among the firms on the 2012 NLJ 250 — with the exception of Squire, Sanders & Dempsey, which grew by 57 percent through a merger with British firm Hammonds. Quinn has been growing by double digits nearly every year since debuting on the NLJ 250 in 2002, although it shrank by 7 percent in 2010. The National Law Journal spoke with managing partner John Quinn about the firm’s growth and future.
National Law Journal: Growing by more than 40 percent in headcount is huge, especially in this market. How did you manage that?
John Quinn: We have a very powerful practice model, in that we don’t try to be all things to all people. We’re a litigation-only practice. Moreover, we’re trial lawyers and people know us as one of the few firms that can present major business cases for juries. There’s always demand for that. We’ve extended our reach outside the United States and grown our practices in the U.K., in Germany, Moscow and Tokyo. We’ve had a lot of things that have been working very well for our firm.
NLJ: What practice areas are most in demand right now?
J.Q.: Patent litigation, including litigation pertaining to smartphones, where we represent most — if not all — of the Android-powered handset manufacturers. Another very important practice area is structured finance, especially relating to the subprime-infected financial structures, residential real estate mortgage-backed securities and the like. Our firm is in a position where we can be adverse to almost all of the major money-center banks, and all the fallout from that 2008 financial crisis is working its way through the legal system. We’re involved in many of the leading cases in that area.
NLJ: Where is the growth coming from, primarily? Laterals? Associates?
J.Q.: We’re always looking at quality people and being opportunistic. We identify first-rate people who we think would fit in well in the firm. We’re always looking for opportunities to bring in outstanding lawyers. People who are known as leaders in their field. Outstanding trial lawyers. People who have the confidence of clients. People who have been very successful in their careers.
NLJ: The large litigation firm model doesn’t seem very popular these days. How have you been able to make it work?
J.Q.: It never was a popular model. We’ve succeeded by being really, really good at winning lawsuits.
NLJ: What predictions can you make, as far as the demand for litigation services?
J.Q.: Patent litigation and structured-finance litigation are going to continue to be very busy this year. We’re going to continue to see a growth in transnational litigation. As global trade cross-border transactions become more and more significant to the world economy, you’re going to see more litigation involving parties that are in different countries, or parallel proceedings in different counties. I think international, transnational litigation as part of international arbitration is going to continue to grow very significantly.
NLJ: What is the long-term strategy for the firm?
J.Q.: Continue to only do litigation work and not change our practice model. Continue to recruit the very best lawyers so we can continue to get great results for our clients. That’s the single most important thing in growing the practice. A continued emphasis on international growth — in particular, international arbitration growth.
NLJ: Do you plan to open more offices overseas?
J.Q.: We will open more offices in Germany, for sure. We’re looking very closely in Southeast Asia, in Hong Kong and Singapore, and we’re looking at growing our international arbitration practice. Singapore and Hong Kong are international arbitration centers, and Germany is the most important economy in Europe. We continue to have important competition for patent litigation and antitrust litigation there. We think there is going to be great opportunity there.
NLJ: Will you expand in the United States?
J.Q.: All our offices will grow.
NLJ: What do you see as some of the firm’s biggest successes of the past year?
J.Q.: For example, we tried six cases in the International Trade Commission. The results are in on five of them. We won all five. The result is not in yet on the sixth one.
NLJ: You’ve gotten some attention for the legal blogosphere for your Twitter postings. Is that a business-development strategy or just fun?
J.Q.: I haven’t done it in a while. I got kind of bored with it. You move to other things. I enjoyed doing it for a while. Maybe I’ll go back to it, but I’ve been busy with other things.
Karen Sloan can be contacted at email@example.com.