Locke Lord Grows Revenue, Profits in Turnaround Year
Revenue per lawyer hit $800,000 in 2018, and profits per equity partner topped the seven-figure mark.
Locke Lord saw revenue tick up slightly and profits per equity partner (PEP) jump in 2018, based on preliminary financial results that show an improved trajectory from 2017 for the Dallas-based firm.
Gross revenue came in at $512.57 million in 2018, up 1.6 percent from 2017, when it was $504.3 million. Net income was $175.45 million in 2018, up 7 percent from $163.99 million the previous year.
Revenue per lawyer hit $800,000 in 2018, up 5.4 percent from 2017, while PEP surpassed the $1 million mark, coming in at $1.035 million. That showed a healthy 10.6 percent increase from $936,000 the year before.
“It was a strong year for us, and we are pleased with the performance across the firm in many different areas—strong in litigation, corporate and IP spaces,” said David Taylor, a partner in Houston who just wrapped up his first year as chairman of the firm.
Those positive results show change from a year ago, when the firm’s gross revenue slipped by 9.8 percent and net income declined by 6.2 percent.
Taylor said many practice areas were “just a little bit better” in 2018 than in 2017.
“We did have some increase in IP litigation and some good results in commercial litigation, continued strength in the insurance and reinsurance [space], corporate space and the energy infrastructure deal space,” he said, noting that other areas, including financial litigation, private equity and energy M&A, were also busy during 2018.
He said the firm did reap the benefits of a contingency fee from a commercial litigation suit, but it was not a major factor in results.
Locke Lord, which has 20 offices, saw head count decline in 2018. The firm had a 641 lawyers counted on a full-time equivalent basis in 2018, compared with 664 lawyers the year before. And it lost a net of five equity partners, with 170 for 2018, compared with 175 the year before. The declines in lawyer count are not as dramatic as in 2017, however, when the firm lost more than 10 percent of its lawyers.
But the nonequity partner tier shrank by 23.4 percent in 2018, with 124 nonequity partners, down from 162 the previous year.
Taylor said lateral moves explain some of the decline, but it is also related to some partners scaling back their practices and changing their titles. Without a mandatory retirement policy at the firm, Taylor said, many lawyers choose to stay but reduce their workload.
One of the firm’s 2018 initiatives was naming Paulette Brown, the former American Bar Association president, as the firm’s first-ever chief diversity and inclusion officer. She will focus on recruiting, retaining and creating benchmarks for women, minority and LGBTQ lawyers at the firm.
“Both from a strategic standpoint, and a let’s-get-it-done standpoint, that was a real focus of ours this year,” Taylor said.
Looking forward to 2019, Taylor said the firm has revised its strategic plan, and identified certain sectors for growth, including energy, finance and financial services, insurance and reinsurance, pharmaceuticals and private equity.
“We believe we’ve got strong client bases in those areas, not at the exclusion of other wonderful practice areas. Building on your strengths is something we need to be doing,” Taylor said.