Goodwin Procter’s City arm grew at more than three times the pace of the firm globally in 2018, hitting $66.8m in the year in which the firm launched a European life sciences practice.
The eye-catching 58% growth in London from $42.3m came as Goodwin’s global turnover rose 16% to $1.2bn, profit per equity partner was up by 14% to $2.46m and revenue per lawyer 10% to $1.25m.
The London revenue rise was all the more impressive coming off the back of a largely flat headcount, with the firm counting 85 lawyers at the end of the year compared to 77 in 2017 and the same number of partners: 23.
But the firm brought in a four-partner team from Dechert in April to launch a European life sciences practice, including London corporate partners Andrew Harrow and Graham Defries.
‘If you look at the shape and size of our business in the US, the largest part of it is the life science and tech business, and it’s very much our ambition to replicate that in Europe,’ London co-chair Paul Lyons told Legal Business.
He said the hires had a ‘great year’, but he would not pick a specific practice area as the standout performer, saying the office recorded strong growth ‘across the piece’.
Lyons pointed to the $200m IPO of British company Orchard Therapeutics as the standout matter for his office. Other mandates for the firm included GTT Communication’s $2.3bn acquisition of Interoute and SAP’s $8bn purchase of Qualtrics.
The office suffered some losses towards the end of the year, with corporate duo Mark Soundy and Sarah Priestley leaving to launch their own private equity boutique, PriestleySoundy, in January this year, and tax partner Ben Eaton quitting for Greenberg Traurig in October.
But overall the growth of the office has been steady since it launched with one partner in 2011. Lawyer headcount has more than doubled over the last two years along from 37 at the beginning of 2017.
Lyons said the firm planned to continue growing with a particular focus on the overlap between private equity, tech and life sciences, in line with its US business: ‘We need to spread it out more, not just in London: we have a phenomenal PE practice in Paris and we are looking to develop further our PE practice in Frankfurt.’
He added that the firm was looking to launch a litigation practice in London.
While Goodwin’s numbers are particularly eye-catching, the early signs point to a strong 2018 for a number of US firms in London. This week, Cooley announced a 16% top line growth in its City arm to $66.7m, White & Case a 7% uptick to $350m, and Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy a 25% hike to $156m.