Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner’s gross revenue dipped slightly last year while profits per partner rose a little. Gross revenue fell by 2.82%, from $358.9 million to $348.8. But PPP climbed 4.3%, from $1.12 million to $1.17 million.
Richard Racine, the firm’s managing partner, attributed the drop in revenue to lower demand for intellectual property legal services. Finnegan focuses solely on intellectual property work.
In particular, the economic downturn forced many companies to cut research and development efforts, which in turn hurt patent prosecution work, Racine said. But he added that the firm’s patent litigation practice, which makes up about 70% of its business, still did well. (Racine also said that in the past three or four months, patent prosecution work has experienced an uptick.)
Finnegan’s headcount for nonequity partners rose by 17.2%, from 36.9 to 43.25. And compensation for nonequity partners rose by 19%. Most of those nonequity partners came from associate promotions, Racine said. But some were “share partners” who shifted to a reduced schedule, fixed compensation structure as they began to move toward retirement. “These partners are still considered share partners under our partnership agreement, but they fall within Am Law's definition of nonequity partners for the purposes of your survey,” he said.
The firm had $14 million less in expenses than it did in 2008, which Racine said was because that year the firm made “major investments in its IT infrastructure,” and opened an office in Shanghai. “We didn’t have any of those investments last year.”
The firm didn’t have any layoffs last year, nor did it delay start dates for incoming associates. Racine said the firm did have some departures, but the addition of about 40 associates in November “kept the firm’s ranks fairly steady.” Total headcount rose 2.9%.
Among the firm’s clients are heavyweights in the pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical sectors. Racine said that the biopharma practice was the firm’s busiest last year. For instance, in late February, the firm is going to trial on behalf of AstraZeneca in a patent dispute over the drug Crestor. The firm also represented Wyeth, Eli Lilly, and Rambus.
Last year, Finnegan saw a 70% increase to pro bono. Racine said the firm began offering more organized pro bono opportunities. “We now have a menu of different kinds of programs attractive to IP lawyers. To the extent that they have free time, we encourage them to help people and to develop their skills through pro bono work,” he said.