In another robust year for Boston’s Goodwin, its ever-expansive City arm has seen turnover lift 11% to $74m amid a year of aggressive investment.
The double-digit City turnover growth may not be as pacey as last year’s eye-catching 58% uptick to $66.8m, but it speaks of the benefits of investing heavily and sticking to the strategy in a year characterised by a slower rate of growth for many more mature practices of US firms in London.
Global revenue saw a comparable 11% increase to $1.33bn from $1.2bn in 2018, while profit per equity partner (PEP) rose 6% to $2.61m from $2.46m last year.
On the back of a sustained hiring spree, London lawyer headcount grew 23% to 86 fee-earners from 69 the previous year, outpacing 14% global headcount growth from 955 to 1,091. That growth resulted in a 3% dip in revenue per lawyer (RPL) from $1.255m to $1.219m for 2019.
Notably, the firm’s City lateral tally since the start of 2019 also stood at 11, chiefly in the tech practice, and mainly from rival in the space, Taylor Wessing.
The biggest haul came last summer with the team hire of Taylor Wessing’s head of life sciences Malcolm Bates, along with colleagues David Mardle, Tim Worden and Adrian Rainey.
The team followed the January 2019 addition of Taylor Wessing corporate partner Andrew Davis to its technology and life sciences practice and the March hire of Simon Thomas from Addleshaw Goddard as a partner in the financial restructuring practice.
More recently in August, tax partner Robert Young was hired from Taylor Wessing and Ali Ramadan joined from Orrick. Last November, private equity partner Carl Bradshaw went over from Kirkland & Ellis, while in January, Goodwin enlisted CMS’ private equity head James Grimwood and this month real estate partner Justin Cornelius joined from Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner.
The firm also last year threw its weight behind London, promoting three to partner – private equity lawyer Ravi Chopra, tax lawyer Katie Leah and real estate lawyer Martin Smith – in its 33-strong global round.
A relatively recent entrant into the London market, opening with a solitary partner (in the form of ex-Ashurst corporate real estate veteran and now Goodwin’s European chair, David Evans) in 2011, Goodwin’s success has been driven by a single-mindedness in sticking to and investing in the four core areas of real estate, private equity, life sciences and technology, mirroring the firm’s strongpoints in the US.
Goodwin had an impressive run of mandates during the financial year, acting for Medical Properties Trust on the acquisition of a corporate structure that owns a portfolio of 30 acute care hospital facilities, valued at roughly £1.5bn, with a team led by Evans, James Spence and Bradshaw.
The year also saw two $1bn mandates for Investcorp and a role advising Ares Management on the structuring and establishment of Ares European Real Estate Fund V, which closed last August having raised €1.78bn.
US firms to report more subdued financial performance out of London include Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, whose revenue remained broadly flat at $125.1m on the heels of a 28% surge in 2018, while Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft saw its London revenue drop for the second year in a row, falling 4% to $41.3 in 2019, in spite of global revenue growing 9% to $459m.