Like many other large Washington firms, Dickstein Shapiro was down on gross revenue and net profits in 2009, but managed to pull off higher profits per equity partner.
The firm’s gross revenue dipped 4.78%, from $312 million to $297 million, while net profits slid 5.17%, from $80.7 million to $76.5 million. But with the number of equity partners down 11.17%, individual profits were up 6.76%, from $985,357 to $1.05 million.
Dickstein Chairman Michael Nannes said the firm’s core practices, including insurance coverage, intellectual property and business litigation, stayed strong through the year. But transactional practices dependent on credit flow dropped off.
IP practice head Gary Hoffman pointed to a large settlement between Dr. Bruce Saffran and Boston Scientific in a patent case in which Dickstein won Saffran an initial $501 million judgment. He said the firm also generated significant work representing insurance company Geico in a trademark suit against Gecko Trading, as well as in several patent cases involving Arbitron.
Insurance practice head Kirk Paisich noted that the firm had collected more than $800 million in 2009 for San Diego Gas and Electric on insurance claims related to California’s wildfires. The firm also won a $48.5 million judgment this year for Sempra Energy, after a favorable verdict in 2008. The case is set for appeal.
Two equity partners, Barry Fleishman and Erica Dominitz, left the insurance practice in 2009 to join Kilpatrick Stockton. In January of this year, 13 lawyers, including partner Robin Cohen, left the practice for Kasowitz Benson Torres & Friedman (those departures are not reflected in the 2009 statistics). The firm’s web site now lists 67 lawyers in the group.
“We added some exceptional attorneys in 2009. We also had some departures of colleagues whom we wish well,” Nannes said of the losses.
While Dickstein’s equity ranks thinned in 2009, its stable of nonequity partners inched up by 1.5%. Nonequity compensation swelled 8.08%, to an average of $525,000 per partner.
Nannes said that the firm had managed significant budget savings. “Our greatest cost savings were achieved by our absence of debt and an avoidance of all interest expense, as well as from reductions in personnel,” he said. “As a result of the market, we also realized an exceptional cost savings when we relocated and built out our New York office in July.”
According to Above the Law, the firm also announced two rounds of associate layoffs, one in January 2009, and a second in November, when the firm said it was cutting 3% of associates and counsel. It also froze 2009 associate salaries at 2008 levels.