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Norton Rose and DLA post rising revenues as global footprint drives growth

Norton Rose has reported an 8.7% increase in global revenue, marking a turnaround from two years of declining revenue.

Profit per equity partner (PEP) jumped almost 33% from $1.05m to $1.4m in 2023, as the number of equity partners declined by 21% from 644 to 506.

This follows a stagnant 2022 for the firm, which saw a 1% drop in global revenue, with PEP remaining static. It is understood that the drop in total equity partner numbers came as a result of the firm standardising its definition of an equity partner across all regions.

The firm credited its growth during 2023 to expansion across various regions and practices, especially in the US, where revenue rose by nearly 13% due to increased demand for disputes advice, as well as work for clients in the banking, finance, projects and energy sectors.

The firm’s EMEA region also experienced a 6.5% rise in revenue, driven by a strong year for banking, litigation and regulatory work, offsetting lower demand in corporate and real estate.

Recent work of note has included advising battery materials company Euro Manganese on its $100m funding agreement with Orion for an innovative waste recycling initiative in the Czech Republic, fielding a team led by Legal 500 project finance Hall of Famer Martin McCann.

Meanwhile, in the US, a team of projects lawyers headed by Chicago-based partner Sameer Ghaznavi recently advised IRG Acquisition Holdings on the acquisition of a 1365-megawatt renewables portfolio from American Electric Power for $1.5bn, comprising wind and solar projects across 11 states.

Elsewhere, global co-head of energy Noam Ayali and partner Rebecca Abou-Chedid in Washington DC, and Charles Hord in New York, led a US team representing debt providers to Houston-based energy company NextDecade Corporation’s Rio Grande LNG export terminal. The project financing, valued at $18.4bn, is the largest in US LNG history.

During the past year, the firm made over 40 lateral partner hires and announced 36 partner promotions, resulting in a marginal partner growth rate of just over 1%.

In London, recent hires have included disputes lawyer Alison Kellett, who joined from BNP Paribas in November where she spent 15 years as head of global dispute resolution for the UK, Channel Islands and Nordics, as well as banking and finance specialist Christopher Akinrele who joined as a partner from Eversheds Sutherland, both based in London.

Conversely, the firm also experienced a series of partner departures throughout 2023, particularly within its litigation practices following the unexpected resignation of global chief executive Gerry Pecht in September.

Six additional global leaders followed Pecht in leaving the firm, including global COO and CFO Robert Otty, global CIO Ann-Michele Bowlin, global head of risk advisory and chief talent office Jane Caskey, global head of digital Sean Pratap, global co-head of information governance, privacy and cybersecurity Ffion Flockhart and global chief strategy alignment, innovation, and people officer Wayne Spanner.

Elsewhere, DLA has announced its eighth consecutive year of revenue growth, posting an increase of almost 4% on 2022 to reach $3.7bn, marking a near 35% increase since 2019.

PEP rose by 11.7% to reach $3.1m, while the number of equity partners decreased by nearly 10.5% from 373 to 334.

The firm has been actively recruiting laterals this year, with a notable influx of partners from Norton Rose. Five partners joined DLA from Norton Rose’s Frankfurt, Sydney, Vancouver, and Washington DC offices.

Among the recent additions to DLA Piper’s London office are energy and infrastructure M&A specialists Steven Bryan and Paul Doris, who joined from Paul Hastings and Brown Rudnick respectively. Andrew Sackney also joined from Pinsent Masons where he where he led the global investigations practice.

In 2023, DLA Piper elevated 73 lawyers to partnership across its 42 offices. Corporate saw the largest intake of new partners, comprising 25% of the promotions, including Laura Marcelli and Sam Whittaker in London.

The firm attributed its overall revenue growth to its diversified practice areas and global footprint, with strong transactional demand in certain areas of Western Europe and the Middle East compensating for reduced corporate activity elsewhere.

As part of the firm’s strategy to expand in key markets including New York, Chicago, California, Texas and Washington, the Americas region reported a 5% increase in revenue. This growth spanned various transactional areas including private equity, investment funds, M&A and venture capital.

Recent standout matters led by the firm’s London lawyers have included M&A partners Bob Bishop and Jon Kenworthy advising Warner Bros. Discovery and Liberty Global, joint owners of leading television production and distribution company ALL3Media, on its agreed £1.15bn sale to RedBird IMI in March.

In December, the firm’s teams in New York and Washington advised Ooredoo Group, a Qatari multinational telecommunications company, in entering into definitive agreements with Mobile Telecommunications Company and TASC Towers Holding to create the largest independent tower company in the MENA region, valued at $2.2bn.