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US financials 2015: Paul Weiss, Dechert, Goodwin and K&S all post strong results

US firm revenue-season has begun with leading firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison posting year-on-year growth. Revenues were up 7% in 2015 to $1.1bn from $1bn the previous year in what is the firm’s 16th year of record-breaking growth having broken the billion dollar barrier last year.

Much of the firm’s growth has derived from the avalanche of litigation and regulatory defence work flowing from the banking crisis and related legislation. The firm’s profit per equity partner (PEP) is equally as strong surging past the $4m mark for the first time up 6% to $4.09m from $3.8m.

‘This was the 20th consecutive year that we’ve seen our profits increase over the prior year’s level, a streak that we’re extraordinarily proud of. We have grown the size of our all-equity partnership in each of the past 20 years; 2015 was no exception, our partnership increased from 135 to 140 partners,’ Paul Weiss chair Brad Karp told Legal Business.

‘We enjoyed record demand across the firm – especially in our litigation and transactional practices.’

The firm boasts deepened relationships with clients like Standard Chartered Bank, News Corporation and ExxonMobil, which augments its existing client list that includes Citigroup, Apollo Global Management, Deutsche Bank, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR), Oaktree Capital Management, Time Warner and IMG.

Some 80% of the firm’s lawyers are based in New York although Paul Weiss has been moving in recent years to build out its other major engine in corporate to complement its disputes team.

Philadelphia-headquartered Dechert also posted robust revenues growing 6% from $839.5m in 2014 to $890m in 2015 – which largely grew because of revenues in the firm’s litigation practice shooting up an impressive 17%. The firm’s PEP also grew by 8.5% from $2.32m to $2.5m.

In October, Legal Business reported on the firm’s LLP accounts and found the highest-paid partner in the London office took home 16% in 2014 to £2.69m, despite income at the City office sliding by 4% from £50.97m to £48.98m for the year ended 31 December 2014.

In June last year, Dechert’s partnership re-elected Andrew Levander chair for another four-year term, while chief executive Daniel O’Donnell was appointed for a further year, as corporate partner Henry Nassau is primed to take on the role when O’Donnell stands down in July 2016.

Meanwhile, Goodwin Procter posted the firm’s third consecutive year of record revenue and profit with revenue growing 10% to $865.5m, including double-digit revenue growth across its private equity, technology and life sciences, and real estate capital markets business units. The firm’s PEP rose 14% to $1.99m, while revenue per lawyer rose 5.4% to $1.09m.

Goodwin Procter’s London office chair David Evans said: ‘2015 was a particularly strong year for Goodwin in Europe, which saw us open in Germany, launch a private equity practice in London and continue to grow our real estate capital markets team. We remain in growth mode in Europe and will continue to make strategic investments in response to client demand.’

King & Spalding broke through the $1bn revenue barrier, posting $1.02bn in turnover, up from $934m the year before. The firm posted PEP up about 6% to $2.5m from $2.36m. During the year the firm recruited 33 lateral partners including four in London, and promoted 24 partners for 2016.