John Hern Jr., Clark Hill John Hern Jr., Clark Hill

Clark Hill’s merger with Dallas firm Strasburger & Price led to huge gains in revenue and net income for the Am Law 200 firm in 2018.

Gross revenue increased by 52.8 percent to $295.9 million, and net income improved by 71.8 percent, to $65.8 million for the combined firm, which is known as Clark Hill Strasburger in Texas.

While the spectacular revenue and income increases can be attributed to the much larger size of the firm, revenue per lawyer (RPL) also grew. RPL was $506,000 in 2018, up 5.4 percent from $480,000 in 2017.

Profits per equity partner (PEP) slipped slightly as the partnership grew, coming in at $518,000, a 1.3 percent dip from $525,000 the prior year.

Detroit-based Clark Hill is considerably larger following its April 2018 merger with 200-lawyer Strasburger. The Detroit-based firm had 584 lawyers in 2018 on a full-time equivalent basis—a 45 percent increase from its 403 lawyers the year before.

The equity partner tier grew by 74 percent, to 127 in 2018 from 73 in 2017.

John Hern Jr., the firm’s Detroit-based chief executive officer, said Clark Hill’s financial results show an especially strong year given the amount of time and energy lawyers from both firms devoted to the merger and then the melding of the firms.

Post-merger, the firm now has offices in 25 cities. The only overlap was in Washington, D.C., where the Strasburger lawyers moved into Clark Hill’s space, Hern said. But none of Strasburger’s other offices closed after the combination.

Hern noted that the combined firm’s total revenue in 2018 beat the sum of the two firms’ separate results in 2017—Clark Hill’s 2017 revenue was $193.6 million and Strasburger brought in $93.8 million in 2017.

Hern said some of that growth came from hiring “rock star” laterals who brought in additional revenue. They include Melissa Ventrone, a cybersecurity partner in Chicago; Bradford Hughes, a transportation litigation partner in Los Angeles; and Latasha Thomas, a senior counsel in the government and public affairs practice group in Chicago.

Hern said the firm’s litigation, corporate and real estate practices were busy in 2018, along with  banking and finance, immigration and international trade.

Bankruptcy is “still not humming right now,” he noted.

More Hiring Ahead

Looking ahead, business in 2019 so far has been “terrific,” Hern said.

He said litigation has stayed strong in 2019, the fidelity insurance group is very busy, and the corporate and labor and employment practices have gotten off to a good start.

Hern said Clark Hill is looking to hire lawyers in the insurance and reinsurance, international trade and immigration practices. And in California the firm wants to hire litigators, he said.

“We spent a lot of time at the end of last year working on integration of our firm, of our Texas colleagues, with the rest of the firm. We think we are on the downhill side of that now. That allows us to focus on delivering value to our clients,” he said.

Clark Hill completed another merger in February, combining with Irish firm O’Gradys Solicitors to add strength to its Dublin office.

Hern said the merger with Strasburger has exceeded his expectations.

“We were very fortunate because our partners, our people in Texas, shared a common set of core values with our firm—client service at the front of the line,” he said.

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