Despite the gloomy forecast from legal consultants, some firms have been able to overcome the economic effects of 2008.
Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr reported growth – albeit minimal – in 2008, with revenue and profits per partner increases. The firm’s revenue of $955 million was up 1.2 percent from 2007.
The firm, which elected 10 new partners in 2008, reported a small hike in its profits per partner total, reporting $1.08 million – up 1.44 percent from last year. Revenue per lawyer at the firm was also up this year – as it reported a 5.8 percent increase at $1,027,103.
Wilmer has a single-tier partnership structure meaning each lawyer that is elected to partnership becomes a firm owner and pays a capital contribution. This year’s new partnership class is down from the 23 newly elected partners firmwide from a year ago. In Washington, the firm elected four to partnership this year after electing nine in its D.C. office a year ago.
Firm co-managing partner William Perlstein says the firm looked at the "strength of the people coming up" and wanted to add where it believed there was client demand.
“We see these elections as a long term investment. We have a one tier partnership so we have to be very careful,” says Perlstein.
While other firms with D.C. locations, such as Latham & Watkins, have announced they will be freezing associate pay in 2009, Wilmer says it will move forward with salary increases this year.