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‘Consolidating growth’: Debevoise posts global revenue and profit drop

Debevoise & Plimpton posted a 3% drop in global revenue to $735m as profits per partner also slumped by 8% to $2.4m. The New York-headquartered firm lost $21.2m from its top line in 2016, after growing revenue by $41.6m last year.

Profits per equity partner (PEP) at the firm fell by $215,000 to $2.41m.

The firm’s London office, headed by high-profile disputes partner Lord Peter Goldsmith QC and tax partner Richard Ward, is understood to have also registered a 3% drop in revenue to $107m, from $110.5m last year.

Debevoise presiding partner Michael Blair said: ‘2015 was a year of significant growth for the firm in London. Following that up with a steady 2016 was important to consolidate that growth, which is exactly what we have done.’

‘The year saw a number of significant events which shifted the business landscape considerably, and making sure we continued to work with our clients to react and adapt to those events was a key focus for the year,’ he added.

Most prominently, its City lawyers last year advised Royal Dutch Shell and Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria on the successful dismissal of claims regarding alleged oil spills in Ogoniland. The case was led by Goldsmith alongside former partner Sophie Lamb who continued on the case after leaving Debevoise.

Other key cases were advising Rolls Royce on its deferred prosecution agreement with the UK’s Serious Fraud Office, and BAT Industries on proceedings brought against Sequana under the Insolvency Act 1986 to recover hundreds of millions of dollars alleged to have been unlawfully paid through dividends.

The firm’s London office has ten partners in corporate, six in dispute resolution and two in tax. The firm promoted two in London as part of its most recent partnership round, and four altogether in the last five years.

By way of laterals, the firm most recently hired dispute resolution partner Wendy Miles from Boies, Schiller & Flexner to join in London, and funds partner Patricia Volhard from Pöllath & Partners in both London and Frankfurt. Against these hires, last year the firm lost arbitration star Sophie Lamb, who joined Latham & Watkins in June 2016.