Patton Boggs' gross revenue declined in 2009, but primarily because they had a large contingency that gave the firm a one-time boost in 2008, and profits ticked upwards.
The firm's gross revenue was $348.5 million in 2008 and $332 million last year. Profits per equity partner (PPP) grew 3.7 percent, to $840,000. The firm's equity partner head count ticked down by three lawyers, to 116, while the number of lawyers rose by 2.7 percent, to 532.
Patton Boggs managing partner Stuart Pape said the firm's 2008 numbers included a roughly $20 million contingency, from a case related to the 1986 bombing of a disco in what was then West Berlin. The firm represented servicemen injured in the blast. Pape said that accounts for the firm's drop in revenue. If it were to be removed, the firm's gross revenue would have ticked up by roughly 1 percent. The firm's revenue per lawyer also declined by 7.4 percent, from $675,000 in 2008 to $625,000 last year. That number, too, was boosted by the 2008 contingency.
Because of that, Pape said, "I think we did fine. I think in 2009, we saw the same thing that lots of other firms saw, which is clients were more cautious about legal spending in general and were much more rate and price sensitive than they have historically been.” As a result, Pape said, Patton Boggs agreed to a larger number of alternative fee arrangements with clients in 2009.
Pape said the firm also cut expenses as much as possible. “There were positions that became vacant that we didn’t fill,” he said. “We approached last year with a determination to avoid layoffs if we could possibly do that, and we were prepared to use virtually every tactic short of that to attempt to make the goal.”
Pape said the litigation practice had a "robust" year and the business practice was busy with restructuring and other work tied to the economic downturn. The firm's policy practice was slow in the first quarter, but picked up for the rest of the year.