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‘Poised for great things’: White & Case City revenue tops $350m as Milbank sees 25% turnover spike

White & Case’s expansive London office was responsible for 17% of firm-wide revenue as Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy has a hiring spree to thank for its pace-setting 25% uptick in City turnover.

White & Case’s City revenue was up 7% to $350m, as firm-wide revenue increased 13.7% to break the $2bn mark at $2.05bn. Profit per equity partner grew 6% to $2.40m and revenue per lawyer increased by 7.8% to reach $954,000 from last year’s $885,000.

The 2018 results continue a blistering run for the firm, building on last year’s 13% uptick in City revenue while firm-wide revenue saw a pacey 10% increase to $1.8bn in 2017. Profit per equity partner rose more than 6% to $2.4m and equity partner headcount globally rose by more than 7% to 342 from last year’s 319.

Strong performing practice areas included banking, disputes and private equity, according to Oliver Brettle, member of the global executive committee and London executive partner Melissa Butler.

White & Case in 2018 proved itself to be something of a hiring whirlwind in the City having gone great guns with its NY-London focus and ambitions to go ‘toe-to-toe’ with the Magic Circle in London as part of a 2020 plan led by Brettle.

Sixteen London laterals included high-profile infrastructure partner Simon Caridia from Herbert Smith Freehills in October and the same month, Weil counsel Thomas Falkus as a partner for its thriving capital markets practice.

The firm also added David Robertson, formerly of Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, to its arbitration practice, Royal Bank of Scotland’s former head of litigation and investigations Laura Durrant as a partner, and Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft litigation partner Steven Baker for the firm’s commercial litigation practice.

White & Case also hired from Weil Gotshal & Manges with mixed results. The start of 2018 saw Weil’s co-head of dispute resolution, Hannah Field-Lowes, join White & Case in London while the hire of Weil’s head of banking Mark Donald later in the year proved to be Ill-fated. Donald was prevented from joining because of a historic issue concerning a Weil associate on secondment at JP Morgan sharing confidential documents.

Oliver Brettle is keen to stress the strength of internal partner promotions as well as laterals. Brettle told Legal Business: ‘This is extremely strong growth on top of very high growth in 2017. That growth has been achieved without the lateral hires. With them, we are poised for great things going forward.’

Last October, White & Case announced a bumper promotion round of 41, of which 13 were in the City, up from seven new London partners the previous year. Butler points to 38% of the new partner promotions in London being female and 46% at the firm globally.

Milbank, meanwhile, has celebrated its 40th anniversary in London by posting a substantive 25% revenue hike for its City branch to $156m from $125m. The financials build on last year’s success when the firm posted its highest ever London revenue, a 9% increase on its 2016 performance.

The firm cited London as a key driver of the firm’s global financial performance and points to its financial restructuring group more than doubling in size and its capital markets group almost tripling in terms of headcount.

Milbank kicked off 2018 with a number of lateral hires, including a four-partner restructuring team from Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft comprising Cadwaladers’ global financial restructuring co-chair Yushan Ng, Jacqueline Ingram, Karen McMaster and Sinjini Saha. Clients of the team included brand name sponsors Oaktree, KKR, Centerbridge Capital Partners and Blackstone.

Within days of those laterals, Milbank also hired high-yield guru Apostolos Gkoutzinis and his capital markets colleague Rebecca Marques from Shearman & Sterling.

For more on White & Case’s unlikely revolution read: Reborn supremacy.