Managing partners at the 25 highest-grossing Connecticut-based law firms were generally upbeat about the 2010 business year, which finished with a strong final quarter.
But theyre decidedly concerned about the future.
Its too early to conclude that the Great Recession is in the rear-view window, notes
D. Robert Morris, managing partner of Pullman & Comley, and the after-effects of the 2008 Wall Street meltdown are still being felt by many clients. "Talking to people at other firms, many firms in 2010 had better fourth quarters than the first three quarters, and made our numbers look good for the year," Morris said.
According to the annual Trib 25 survey project, Pullman - No. 8 on the list - had gross revenue of $36 million in 2010, and robust profits per partner of $565,000. "I think the question for everybody is whether 2011 looks like the strong fourth quarter or looks like the rest of 2010," said Morris.
In firm after firm, diversification of practices was viewed as important to economic success - even though several 2010 increases came as a hard-to repeat windfall. At No. 4 Shipman & Goodwin, managing partner Scott Murphy oversees 10 specialized practice groups a pyramid with a solid base. The practice groups range from a well-established government bonds team, a private client group that operates like a trust company, and an education law practice that numbers 111 school boards as clients, out of about 150 statewide.
"We had a very busy 2010.
It was up," Murphy said. "The real problem we saw from the economic meltdown came right at the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009, when the credit markets and capital markets froze, and people were just not doing deals, not taking risks, not making investments."
The spring of 2009 saw a rebound, said Murphy, and Shipman finished 2009 "actually above budget, and that momentum carried into 2010, which was also above budget."
Blend Of Expertise
Several firms with robust 2010 increases attribute them to once-in-a-blue moon phenomena.
At No. 17 Rogin Nassau, intellectual property litigators chalked up a $50 million trade secrets verdict that later settled for an undisclosed amount, says managing partner Steve Bartlestone.
That 27-lawyer firms enduring success is anything but a fluke, however, according to Weston-based law firm advisor Peter Giuliani.