Updated 4:30 p.m.
Despite the slumping economy that has bogged down other Washington firms, Steptoe & Johnson reported gross revenues of $376.5 million for the 2011 fiscal year – a 9.1% increase over 2010.
The firm also reported a 6.6% jump in profits per partner – to $970,000 – and a 5.3% increase in revenue per lawyer to $890,000.
Roger Warin, partner and chair of Steptoe’s executive committee, attributed the firm’s strong financial performance to an increased headcount, modest rate increases and the recovery of contingency fees.
“The demand remained relatively flat in terms of hours,” Warin said in an interview. “A part of that was there was less demand for document work by paralegals and contract attorneys.”
Warin pointed to several high-profile laterals that contributed to the firm’s 3.4 percent increase in attorneys. Among them: a trio of intellectual property litigators who joined the firm’s Chicago office, former Federal Energy Regulatory Commission commissioner Marc Spitzer in Washington and former Rep. John Shadegg (R-Ariz.). Warin said that patent litigators Meredith Martin Addy, Tom Filarski and Mark Remus have tried two cases in their first three months at the firm.
“That has been part of our effort to bolster our intellectual property and patent litigation practice throughout our offices,” Warin said. He said that client demands have the firm keen to add more laterals in the coming year, but that client concerns have curtailed the hiring of first year associates.
Warin also praised the work of Reid Weingarten, after a federal judge dismissed the case against his client, former vice president and associate general counsel for GlaxoSmithKline Lauren Stevens.
In March, the firm completed its investigation of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System regarding allegations of corruption and bribery by placement agents. This resulted in a publicly-issued report. Steptoe's work for CalPERS continues as federal and state investigators pursue placement agents and former public officials. In addition, the firm has represented Motorola in five investigations against Apple and Microsoft during the ongoing smart phone wars.
“It was a good year in terms of economics, good year in terms of laterals and a good year in terms of business,” Warin said. “I cross my fingers and hope we can continue it this year.”
This report is part of The National Law Journal's ongoing Web coverage of 2011 financial results of Am Law 200 firms in the Washington area. Full survey results will be published in The American Lawyer's May and June issues.