Updated 5:04 p.m.
On paper, Dickstein Shapiro's fiscal year 2012 financial metrics represented a big change from 2011. Whereas gross revenue held steady in 2011, last year it dipped 3.2 percent to $258.5 million. But revenue per lawyer, profits per partner and net income all showed strong growth. Revenue per lawyer climbed 7.7 percent to $840,000 and profits per partner increased 3.8 percent to $950,000. Net income had the largest gain of any metric category, jumping 8.9 percent to $55 million.
"From the perspective of our firm, we thought it was a good year," chairman Michael Nannes said. "We know it's a challenging time."
Nannes said that the litigation, insurance, government contracts and intellectual property practice contributed to the firm's success in 2012. He expects these practices will continue to be strong through 2013. The corporate practice also finished out the year strong, in part bolstered by the uncertainty of the fiscal cliff.
At the end of December, the firm was able to close a $922 million financial transaction toward a desalination plant in Carlsbad, Calif. The firm represented Poseidon Resources in financing what will be the largest desalination facility in the Western Hemisphere, capable of producing 50 million gallons of drinking water a day.
In November, attorneys from the firm represented Beebe Medical Center against its insurer in a $123 million settlement related to a sexual abuse case in which more 900 children were abused by former Delaware pediatrician Earl Bradley. The settlement allowed the hospital to secure money for its victims and avoid bankruptcy. It also marked the first time a sexual-abuse case was settled through class action.
Nannes said the firm is also using alternative billing arrangements, including total and partial contingent fees. He said that it's the firm, not the clients, that is presenting the option of alternative fees.
"Sometimes they take it and sometimes they don't take it, but they are pleased," Nannes said. "It shows that we are going to feel pain and success with them."
Arguably the most dramatic reversal from fiscal year 2011 was among attorney headcount, which dropped a little more than 10 percent, going from 343 lawyers firmwide to 308. Nannes said that the decline in headcount was part of the firm's plan to be "properly sized" moving forward. "Our sizing is driven by asking practices how they can be more efficient and profitable," he said. "It will vary from practice to practice."