Legal Business

‘Clients want to come to the best’: Quinn Emanuel breaks $2bn barrier with 26% revenue jump

Quinn Emanuel today announced its firmwide financial results for calendar year 2023, with the litigation powerhouse joining an elite band of firms to notch revenue over $2bn, with a 26% jump taking it from $1.65bn last year to $2.08bn.

The firm also broke $1bn in profit, which reached $1.35bn. Revenue per lawyer was up nearly 16% from $1.61m to $1.86m, despite an increase in total headcount of 108, to 1,120. The results are even more impressive on PEP, which rose 39% from $5.23m to $7.29m – higher than any firm in last year’s Global 100 apart from first-place Kirkland & Ells ($7.52m) and second-place Wachtell ($7.29m).

‘We’ve been firing on all cylinders’, said Michael Carlinsky, who became global co-managing partner alongside William Burck when co-founding partner John Quinn transitioned to the role of chair in May 2022. ‘It all comes back to the strength of our brand. A firm can only be successful as the amount of work it generates. And, because we don’t have a corporate practice, our brand is central to generating work. Clients come to us not as a sideline, not because they have a corporate relationship with us, but because they want to come to the best.’

2023 saw no shortage of high-profile work for the world’s largest litigation-only firm. It acts for Ukraine in inter-state proceedings against the Russian Federation in the European Court of Human Rights, with a team led from London by office co-managing partner Alex Gerbi and partner Julianne Hughes-Jennett. In February, a team led by New York partners Alex Spiro, Andrew Rossman, and William Price successfully defended Elon Musk in a $12bn class action alleging that Musk and Tesla were liable for investor losses incurred after posts the billionaire made on Twitter (latterly X) regarding his plans to take Tesla private. Quinn later notched a win for Tesla in a racial discrimination case, while Spiro is also representing WeWork co-founder and former CEO Adam Neumann in his bid to buy WeWork out of bankruptcy.

Carlinsky noted that work was ‘well spread throughout the firm’, but pointed to patent litigation, commercial litigation, and bankruptcy as key drivers of growth. The firm also continued to expand overseas – the London office posted a 47% increase in revenue in January, while last year saw Quinn open offices in Beijing in May and in Dubai and Abu Dhabi in September. In October it announced its intention to apply for a foreign law practice licence to set up in Singapore.

‘It’s a natural extension for us to continue to expand’, said Carlinsky. ‘When we open in a location like Abu Dhabi, we’re not seeking just to generate business to keep our lawyers there busy. We’re looking for opportunities to generate business for other parts of the firm. Our Gulf region offices generate significant business for our London office.’

Back on its home turf, Quinn opened an office in Wilmington, Delaware in January, led by Michael Barlow, once chief of staff to former state governor Jack Markell and a well-known figure in the Delaware courts. ‘People sometimes used to say, “the Delaware Bar is just waiting for Quinn to set up”’, said Carlinsky. ‘Well, now we have. We viewed it as a no-brainer. IP litigation is a big driver in Delaware right now. And, of course, the Delaware Court of Chancery is the venue of choice for major corporate governance disputes.’

Carlinsky also spoke of plans to build out in data protection, as well as regulatory and antitrust work. ‘White-collar is very, very active. Our group continues to grow. I expect we’re going to announce shortly some other additions’, he said.

‘The same is true on antitrust’, he continued. ‘We’ll continue to be opportunistic. There are lots of examples of corporate teams bringing in regulatory specialists to help resolve issues that arise as part of M&A work. We’d be very willing to build up our capabilities in that sort of work.’

Quinn is in no danger of pivoting to a full-service model – its litigation-only model is evidently working for it. But its openness to extending into areas of corporate work is a sign of its continued drive to grow.

‘We’re excited about the prospects as we move forwards’, said Carlinsky. ‘We had a historic year in 2023. And we believe it’s replicable.’

Legal Business

‘Stunning achievement’: revenue and profit surge at Quinn’s London office

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan posted an impressive set of 2023 financial results for its London office today (10 January), with revenue up 47% to £196.6m and profit up a staggering 60% to £153.6m, with a profit margin of 78%.

London senior partner Richard East (pictured), who founded the office in 2008, said: ‘We are extremely pleased with our 2023 results. It is a stunning achievement for a “disputes only” practice to approach £200m in revenue, especially taking into account the number of partners we have in London. This year’s results were boosted by a material one-off success fee, but even without this fee the office has very significantly improved revenue and profit as against 2022.’

The results see significant growth again after a flat 2021. Profits increased by 10% and revenue by 5% in 2022 – but this was still below the rates of increase in 2020, when profit rose by 34% and revenue by 27%. The picture is even more striking on a five-year time horizon: revenue has increased by 135% (from £83.6m) and profit by 159% (from £59.3m) since 2018.

The London office increased its partner headcount by three in 2023, to 29, with the hires of Pinsent Masons IP litigator David Lancaster in May, Cadwalader arbitrator Melis Acuner in September, and Morrison Foerster privacy and data protection litigator Gemma Anderson in December. This headcount increase did not stop the office’s PEP figure jumping by 45% 2022-23, to $5.3m from $3.6m. The firm also added 18 new associates and one new counsel, for a total headcount of 114, up from 92 last year. These headcount figures give an office RPL increase of 19% year-on-year, to $1.7m from $1.5m.

Speaking to Legal Business, East explained the firm’s strategy around lateral hires: ‘We try to hire great people, and sometimes great people come along who are in practice areas we already cover, and sometimes they come along in practice areas we don’t yet cover. I wouldn’t say we’ve ever focused on one area over another. If a big name in commercial litigation came to us, I wouldn’t turn them down because we already have people in commercial litigation. I very rarely turn down an opportunity to meet someone who’s interested in joining us.’

The firm has a number of major cases lined up for the year ahead, including acting for AT1 bondholders who saw their holdings written down to zero amid the collapse of Credit Suisse, defending SoftBank in Credit Suisse’s $440m high court claim over Greensill Capital’s collapse, and representing prospective class representative Liza Gormsen in her Competition Appeals Tribunal claim against Meta, which was heard for a collective proceedings order on Monday 8 January.

Legal Business

Social media influencer: James Bremen, chair of Quinn Emanuel’s construction and engineering practice

In the early days of the pandemic, James Bremen began posting direct-to-camera explainers on Covid-19 legal issues, before branching out into career advice on making partner and successfully building client relationships, attracting thousands of views with the minimum of fuss

Legal Business

‘A somewhat unique position’: Quinn Emanuel opens second mainland China office in Beijing

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan has announced the launch of a new office in Beijing, its second in mainland China following its 2016 opening in Shanghai.

The new branch will be headed by Xiao Liu, head of Quinn’s China practice. Haiyan Tang will remain as head of the Shanghai office, and will also move into a co-leading role in the China practice alongside Liu. The firm will continue to focus on investigations, litigation, and arbitration, for both China-based clients and multinational clients doing business in China.

Speaking to Legal Business, Liu stressed that the move had been part of the firm’s strategy for a long time. ‘It has been long planned. We’ve been leveraging our global resources in dispute resolution and our on-the-ground presence in Shanghai for quite a few years. We had quite a few clients headquartered in Beijing, so even before we had the office there the team had been travelling to Beijing and spending a significant amount of time there anyway.’

He added: ‘Once we had the first office in Shanghai, we needed to wait for at least three years before even applying to have a second office in mainland China. Then there was the delay caused by the Covid pandemic. So that’s why we didn’t open the office in Beijing earlier. It’s not any sudden shift in focus or strategy.’

While Liu was keen to highlight that the move was not in any way a response to any changes in the economic climate, he did note that Quinn’s nature as a disputes-only firm left it well placed to succeed.

‘We are in a somewhat unique position in the market’, he said. ‘Unlike many other firms, which started their practice in China with transactional work, we are situated completely differently. We are affected by very different factors of the market. We’re not really subject to the normal economic cycles that would affect, for example, the interest of foreign capital in investing in China.’

Quinn’s existing practice sees it ranked in tier 5 for litigation: foreign firms in the Legal 500. Herbert Smith Freehills sits alone in the top tier, while most others on the list are full-service firms.

Liu argued that a maturing market provides more opportunities for disputes-only firms. ‘We see that Chinese companies are growing much more sophisticated day by day. Previously, there may have been a ‘one-firm-fits-all’ approach. But now, the market is much more developed than that. We’ve had occasions where the client has their own trusted corporate counsel working on every deal they have. But, where they have their most complex litigation, in the US or elsewhere, they look for the best law firms to work on just that. That builds the market for us.’

Legal Business

Quinn shrugs off partner departures with 10% City profit boost

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan’s London office has released a solid set of 2022 financials, headlined by a 10% increase in profit to £94.87m. There was also an increase to the top line, as it rose 5% to £133.58m, resulting in an impressive profit margin of 71%.

The figures saw the firm return to its familiar growth trajectory after a flat performance last year. However, this year’s numbers were still below the heights of 2020, when the litigation specialist enjoyed an 11% increase in profit and a stellar 20% hike in revenue.

Speaking to Legal Business, London senior partner Richard East (pictured) was bullish on the firm’s prospects in the current market: ‘We’ve grown over the last 15 years through several different cycles. Since the financial crisis in 2008, I don’t think there’s been a year in which there hasn’t been opportunity. However, there is a perfect storm of economic factors going on right now which lends itself to our kind of practice.’ 

This year’s encouraging results will be particularly welcome given the firm’s turbulent start to last year. In late 2021, a three-partner team antitrust litigation team jumped ship to Willkie Farr & Gallagher. Led by Boris Bronfentrinker, who represented the claimant in the seminal Supreme Court case against Mastercard regarding interchange fees, the departures led to speculation that Quinn would be in for a tough year.

2022 saw the firm respond with a senior lateral move of its own, as former RPC competition head Lambros Kilaniotis joined in August . Nevertheless, Quinn still ended 2022 with just 24 partners, two fewer than the 26 in situ 12 months earlier.

On the development of the team, East added: ‘We’ve never stopped looking at potential opportunities, and that won’t stop. As time moves on and we’ve become a more mature practice, it’s harder to make lateral hires that have any meaningful impact on growth. More and more, we’re looking towards internal promotions. But we never stop looking. There is never an end to the process.’

Legal Business

Quinn Emanuel turns to RPC competition head to boost City practice

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan has appointed RPC’s head of competition, Lambros Kilaniotis, to boost its City antitrust offering.

Kilaniotis, who has been with RPC since 2013, is a solicitor-advocate with a dual contentious and non-contentious competition practice. On the disputes side, Kilaniotis has represented claimants on competition damages claims relating to the interchange fees cartel and acted for Google in its defence of consumer collective opt-out proceedings in the Competition Appeals Tribunal.

He will co-head Quinn Emanuel’s UK competition practice alongside partner Kate Vernon, who said of his arrival: ‘Lambros is an outstanding lawyer with the technical and tactical skills required to win the most demanding cases. We are building a compelling competition litigation brand here in London and Lambros will be integral to that process.’

Richard East, senior partner at Quinn’s London office, added: ‘Lambros is a great addition to our existing competition practice, which has gone from strength to strength this year. He has an impressive track record for both winning complex competition disputes and achieving very favourable out-of-court settlements. As a higher-rights advocate, he has the legal and technical skills our clients demand and we are sure he will flourish at Quinn Emanuel.’

Kilaniotis becomes the second partner brought in by Quinn following exits of high-profile competition litigation partners Boris Bronfentrinker, Elaine Whiteford and Nicola Chesaites. The trio, as well as a team of eight associates, joined Willkie Farr’s London office last year.

It was a case of one in, one out for Quinn as partner Ravi Nayer departed for Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (BCLP) earlier this week. Nayer, who left Quinn after just over a year, has created joint defence and novel litigation co-operation agreements in some of the UK’s largest class actions, including the RBS rights issue litigation.

Legal Business

Quinn Emanuel expands European footprint with fifth German office in Berlin

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan has strengthened its German presence with the opening of a new office in Berlin with space for 10 lawyers.

The new office will be headed by Germany managing partner Marcus Grosch, who will split his time between Berlin, Mannheim and Munich. Grosch will be joined by an associate, but Quinn will also be looking to the local lateral market to bulk out the new hub.

Grosch commented: ‘From our perspective, the recruitment market in Berlin is promising – our goal in the short term is to hire a team of outstanding lawyers. In addition, proximity to our clients has always been an important factor in our choice of location and also plays a major role with regard to Berlin.’

Quinn has said that the Berlin office will focus predominantly on high-end litigation and arbitration, broadly consistent with the firm’s global disputes-only reputation.

The opening brings Quinn’s office count in Germany to five, with Hamburg, Mannheim, Munich and Stuttgart being the others.

Nearly a year ago to the day, Quinn made a similar move in Miami. The firm opened with the hire of 10 lawyers including the city’s mayor, Francis Suarez, as counsel. The two partners leading the move were John O’Sullivan and Olga Vieira who joined from Hogan Lovells and Greenspoon Marder respectively.

Legal Business

Quinn Emanuel defies crisis with striking 27% spike in City turnover

Showing no sign of pandemic-induced slowdown, US-bred dispute resolution specialist Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan has hiked London revenues by 27% to reach £127.4m.

There was further cause for cheer for the firm as profits shot up 34% to around £91m, putting the office’s profit margin at an impressive 71%.

London senior partner Richard East (pictured) described the results as ‘truly astounding’ within the context of the Covid-19 crisis. He told Legal Business: ‘I was quite frankly amazed how quickly and seamlessly the office transitioned to remote working.’

He added that the results ‘derive from the total commitment to the service of our clients that has been shown by our London workforce’.

It is hard to dispute East’s assessment, given the firm considerably outstripped its 2020, pre-pandemic growth. Last year, the firm recorded an above-trend 15% rise in revenue to break the £100m barrier, while profit grew 11% to £67.2m.

Standout mandates for 2020 included the firm’s landmark Supreme Court win in December, where Mastercard’s efforts to thwart former financial ombudsman Walter Merricks’ £14bn group action claim against it were quashed. Merricks was represented by Quinn partners Boris Bronfentrinker and Nicola Chesaites, who instructed Monckton Chambers’ Paul Harris QC, and Brick Court’s Marie Demetriou QC and Victoria Wakefield QC.

East himself led as the firm advised Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank in its capacity as lead creditor to healthcare chain NMC Health, which was threatened with administration. London partner Robert Hickmott and civil fraud chair Nick Marsh completed the team.

Quinn’s London office currently comprises 23 partners, 72 associates, and eight of counsel. It expanded in seniority last year, after litigation partner Justin Michaelson was brought in from Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson.

These results are a positive indicator that the City’s disputes teams have coped with the pandemic well. While results are likely to be weaker at more generalist firms or those with a transactional hedge, Quinn’s latest results suggest that the old wisdom around disputes teams profiting from global uncertainty is well-founded.

Legal Business

Quinn closes NY office after partner tests positive for coronavirus

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan has temporarily closed its New York office after a partner tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus.

The partner has been absent from the office since early March due to the virus, with the firm instructing staff to work remotely from March 9 to March 13 as a result. It is now tracking down individuals who have been in contact with the partner in previous days.

A statement from the firm read: ‘Over the weekend, we got results showing that a partner in our New York office tested positive for the coronavirus. His symptoms are minor, and he is resting at home, where he has been since March 2 because of reported infections in his religious community in Westchester Count. Our number one concern is for the health and well-being of all staff.’

The closure for Quinn is just the latest in a string of serious disruptions caused to the business of law by the virus. Baker McKenzie was the first major firm in London to be forced into a decision, closing its 1,000-employee office after a member of staff was taken ill following a return from Northern Italy, though the office has now reopened.

Meanwhile, Latham & Watkins and Simmons & Simmons were among the first firms to suspend partner conferences due to fears of the virus, while Linklaters took the step to hold its conference virtually to avoid physical contact between staff.

The wider economic hit has also been heavy. Today (March 9) the FTSE 100 plunged over 8.5%, on track for its worst fall since 2008, while the US stock markets suffered their worst week since 2008 with the three main indexes falling 10% or more in February.

Legal Business

Quinn breaks £100m City revenue barrier as King & Spalding hikes London revenue 15%

Disputes heavyweight Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan has continued its impressive growth in the City, with revenue at the firm’s London office increasing 20% to £100.6m.

The US-bred firm also saw profits rise 11% to £67.2m, putting the office’s profit margin at 66.7%. The results cement Quinn’s place as ‘unquestionably the market leader in litigation-only practices in London,’ according to senior partner of the London office Richard East.

The revenue increase is an improvement on the firm’s impressive showing last year, when turnover increased 16% to £83.6m. However, profit growth was marginally ahead for 2018, growing 13% to £59.3m. The firm counts 19 partners in its London office and had 69 associates/of counsel at the end of 2019, up from 54 at the beginning of the year.

‘This has been another year of fantastic growth in London revenues with all areas of our practice contributing to our success,’ said Quinn co-managing partner Alex Gerbi. ‘We remain very ambitious and believe that we can continue to grow our market share and further entrench our position as the ‘go-to’ disputes firm.’’

The firm’s City performance has been driven by a number of standout disputes over the last year, including high-profile group action claims such as the Merricks v Mastercard dispute and the truck cartel investigation.

Meanwhile, fellow US outfit King & Spalding has also produced strong financial performance in the City. The firm increased London revenue 15% to $55.7m, an improvement on last year’s growth of 12% in its UK business. Firmwide revenues also saw growth, up 6.1% to $1.34bn, while profit per equity partner was up 5.4% to $3m. The global growth rate is down on last year, when the firm upped revenue 9%.

So far in 2020 US firms have disclosed robust financial performances for 2019. Morrison & Foerster kicked off the reporting season last month, when the firm revealed a 25% uptick in City revenue and a 10% revenue rise globally.