Continuing its momentum from 2017, Fenwick & West has reported the firm’s highest-ever financial growth in 2018, thanks to record-setting gross revenue.
The Silicon Valley firm boosted its revenue by 14.6 percent to $429.69 million in 2018, while profits per partner grew by 20.2 percent to $1.82 million, according to preliminary ALM data. The results show a major acceleration from 2017, when the firm reported that revenue rose 3.7 percent and profits per equity partner (PEP) grew 1.5 percent.
“We are entering 2019 incredibly well-positioned for success,” said Fenwick chairman Richard Dickson, who has led the firm since since 2014. “We made more investments in 2018 than in any year prior, adding eight lateral partners, hiring associates, making substantial technology improvements, and growing our office space in New York, Seattle and San Francisco.”
Despite 11 partner departures over the course of the year, the size of Fenwick & West’s equity partnership dropped by just one partner, to 83. Over a six-week stretch in August and September 2018, Fenwick & West lost five longtime partners, some of whom had practiced at the firm for over two decades.
According to data provided by the firm, the 11 partners who left in 2018 included three who retired, as well as litigation partner Virginia DeMarchi, who was selected for magistrate judgeship in San Jose, California. The other seven joined other law firms.
M&A lawyer R. Gregory Roussel, who counts Facebook among his clients, went to Latham & Watkins. Jeffrey Vetter, the former co-chair of the firm’s corporate finance and securities group, fled to rival Gunderson Dettmer Stough Villeneuve Franklin & Hachigian. IPO specialist William Hughes left for Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe. IP partner Darren Donnelly joined Polsinelli, and compensation and benefits partner Blake Martell jumped to Cooley.
Despite the high-profile departures, Fenwick & West’s firmwide head count increased by 4.4 percent from 2017 to 2018. Revenue per lawyer at the 335-lawyer firm jumped 9.8 percent, to $1.28 million. The firm’s net income also rose by 18.5 percent to $219.6 million.
“We were very fortunate to experience demand growth in every major practice area in 2018—the best recipe for such extraordinary growth and one enabled by our sharp focus on technology and life sciences,” said Dickson, noting that the growth in the firm’s M&A, corporate and tax practices were particularly strong.
“The strength and growth of our New York office, which has outpaced our expectations, has also been a driver of growth,” Dickson added.
Many of the firm’s recent hires are based in its New York office, including a group of six intellectual property litigators from White & Case. The Silicon Valley firm has also moved its sole East Coast outpost into new space in the city’s technology-friendly Flatiron District now that its New York presence has grown to nearly 40 lawyers.
“Our substantial investments in people, technology and growth over the past few years helped drive outstanding results in 2018, and given our high level of investment in 2018, should drive even greater success in 2019,” Dickson said.
Last year, Fenwick & West’s corporate team handled GitHub, Inc.’s $7.5 billion acquisition by Microsoft Corp.—one of the largest venture-backed M&A exits in 2018—and handled Workday’s $1.55 billion acquisition of Adaptive Insights, a cloud-based platform for modernizing business planning.
The firm also represented Cisco Systems, Inc. in its $2.35 billion acquisition of Duo Security; cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase in 8 acquisitions; Imperva in a $2.1 billion acquisition of the company by Thoma Bravo, LLC; and Cloudera, Inc. in its $5.2 billion merger with Hortonworks, Inc.
“Public offering work is an everyday part of our practice. Our current partners led 18 public offerings last year raising over $4 billion,” Dickson said. “Indeed, we expect 2019 to be another strong year for public offerings and we have more than a dozen IPOs in the pipeline.”
Kicking off in 2019, Fenwick & West announced earlier in the month that it represented biopharmaceutical company Loxo Oncology in Eli Lilly and Co.’s $8 billion acquisition of the business.