Gross revenue declined in 2009 but net income improved at Texas firms Andrews Kurth and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld. Gross revenue at Andrews Kurth of Houston was $243 million in 2009, down 8.7 percent when compared to $266 million in 2008, but the firm posted net income of $80.1 million in 2009, up 1.5 percent over 2008’s $78.9 million. Revenue per lawyer declined by 4.8 percent to $700,000, compared to $735,000 in 2008, but profits per partner improved to $954,000 in 2009, up 5.2 percent over $907,000 the previous year. Managing partner Robert Jewell says the firm’s revenue came in close to an early-year forecast that factored in the nation’s poor economy, but attention to the expense side of the equation helped the firm post an increase in net income for the year. “We were pleased with how responsible our partners were with spending the firm’s money,” he says. He says bankruptcy/restructuring and litigation were busy practice areas during 2009, but the transactional, corporate and real estate practices were down during the first few months of the year. Because net income was solid for 2009, the firm for the second year in a row used about 10 percent of 2009 profits to prepay 2010 fixed expenses, Jewell says. The firm lost some lawyers during the year – headcount declined to 347 lawyers as of Aug. 31, 2009, compared to 362 on the same date in 2008 -- but Jewell declines to say if any lawyers were laid off in 2009. He says the firm expects to beef up lateral hiring this year. At Akin Gump of Dallas, gross revenue was $718.8 million in 2009, down from $780.5 million in 2008, a 7.9 percent decrease. But the firm posted a 12.1 percent increase in net income, with $247 million in 2009, up from $220.4 million the previous year. Akin Gump chairman Bruce McLean of Washington, D.C., says the drop in revenue was due partly to the fact that 2009 was a difficult year for the firm’s clients. Also, McLean says, the firm lost a significant number of lawyers during the year. “But all in all, we had a pretty good year,” McLean says. Akin Gump’s profits per partner increased 3.4 percent, hitting $1.45 million in 2009 compared to $1.4 million in 2008. Revenue per lawyer was $991,867 in 2009, up 2.5 percent compared to $967,181 in 2008. McLean says the firm paid close attention to costs in 2009 and did a good job on year-end collections. As of Aug. 31, 2009, Akin Gump had 725 lawyers in its 13 offices worldwide, down from 807 on the same date in 2008, for a decrease of 10.2 percent. “We’re a smaller firm,” McLean says. But he points out that Akin Gump increased the number of equity partners to 170 at the end of August 2009, up from 157 the year before.
-- Mary Alice Robbins and Brenda Sapino Jeffreys