Holland N. O'Neil
Holland N. O’Neil ()

While diving oil prices took a bite of many Texas law firms energy practice wallets, that hardly seemed to matter to Dallas’ Gardere Wynne Sewell, which brought in $149 million in gross revenue during their recently completed fiscal year—an increase 4.2 percent over the $143 million from the previous year.

“We’re a busy energy firm. I would have anticipated some issues because of oil prices. But we didn’t experience that. Clients saw this as a time to acquire,” said Holland N. O’Neil, chair of Gardere’s board of directors, about the firm’s performance during its 2015 fiscal year, which concluded March 31.

Gardere clients used the downturn to their advantage including Lime Rock Resources, a private equity firm that Gardere represented in its $600 million purchase of Occidental Petroleum Corporation’s oil operations in North Dakota.

Attorneys in the firm’s corporate practice/merger and acquisition sections were also busy, closing 54 deals worth over $3.3 billion. And the firm also had steady productions from lawyers who worked in its real estate, hospitality and bankruptcy sections.

Net income at the firm was $53.6 million in 2015, a 7.2 percent increase over $50 million the firm earned the previous year.

Revenue per lawyer was $694,315 in 2015, a 6.2 percent increase from $653,266 the previous year. And profits per equity partner was $850,793 in 2015, a 5.5 percent increase from $806,451 the previous year.

The firm had 215 lawyers working on a full-time equivalent basis in 2015, down slightly from the 219 attorneys it employed the previous year.

“It’s a testament to the quality work and higher billable hours with the same number of lawyers—we’re busy across the board,” O’Neil said of the firm’s success. “I don’t know if it’s just a good time to be at Gardere or a middle market firm. We had an excellent year.”

In addition to Mexico City and Dallas, Gardere also has offices in Houston and Austin. The firm also opened a new Denver office in January.

Editor’s note: This report is part of Texas Lawyer’s coverage of the 2015 financial results of the 25 highest-grossing Texas-based firms as part of the Am Law 100 and Second Hundred reports. Texas Lawyer will publish its annual report on firm finance May 2. The American Lawyer, a Texas Lawyer affiliate, will publish full results for The Am Law 100 in May. The Am Law Second Hundred will be published in June.