Legal Business Blogs

US financials: Shearman & Sterling recovery falters as Gibson Dunn’s star rises higher

The two-year rebound at New York-headquartered Shearman & Sterling came to an abrupt end last year as profits per equity partner (PEP) sunk back below what partners achieved in 2007, outpaced by West Coast rival Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher which put in another strong performance as it continues its run as one of the country’s fastest growing firms.

Revenue rose slightly at Shearman, up 2% to $860m, with the firm’s M&A group putting in a strong performance.

PEP dropped by more than $60,000 at the firm last year, dropping 4% from $1.9m in 2014 to $1.84m last year. This puts PEP below what it achieved in 2007, with revenue still $61m below what it generated that year.

Shearman’s London office again outperformed the rest of the firm, though only by a small margin this year, with revenue up 3% to $149m. Deals carried out by the London office last year include two mandates for cable company Liberty Global, advising on its $8.2bn purchase of Cable & Wireless Communications and its investment in Lions Gate Entertainment, and a role advising the underwriters on ABN Amro’s €3.8bn IPO at the end of the year, the largest ever Dutch privatisation. Over the past five years the City office has grown by 43% and accounted for 17% of the firm’s global revenue last year.

Nick Buckworth (pictured), managing partner of Shearman’s London office told Legal Business: ‘The business is on track, we’re making the investments, we have the deals and we have quality partners that will help us drive the business. We experienced at the end of 2015 a softening of the market. We saw a lot of slippage on deals.’

While Shearman has been one of the slowest growing firms in the US, Gibson has been one of the fastest. It notched a 20th straight year of revenue growth in 2015, with revenue up 5% to $1.54bn. PEP was up 5% to $3.19m, while revenue per lawyer grew 4% to $1.27m.