Biglaw, Fabulosity, Partner Issues, Partner Profits

New Partner Watch: Incoming Partner Classes at 10 Top Firms

6. Weil Gotshal & Manges: Weil named a whopping twelve new partners this year (up from a robust eleven in the prior year). Please congratulate:

Jason Billeck, Complex Commercial Litigation, Houston
Garrett Fail, Business Finance & Restructuring, New York
Eric Hochstadt, Antitrust/Competition, New York
Barbara Jagersberger, Private Equity, Munich
Roman Janecek, Mergers & Acquisitions, Prague
Jiri Kindl, Mergers & Acquisitions, Prague
Vladimir Kykal, Mergers & Acquisitions, Prague
Simon Lyell, Private Equity, London
Samantha McGonigle, Private Equity, London
Libor Moravek, Mergers & Acquisitions, Prague
Gregory Silbert, Complex Commercial Litigation, New York
Rupert Wall, Structured Finance, London

Can someone Czech into what’s going on in Prague? A third of the new partners are based in that office. Another quarter come from London, and one more practices out of Munich. It seems that Weil is placing a big bet on Europe, as well as on transactional work; all of the new partners come from the corporate side, with three exceptions: Billeck, a commercial and bankruptcy litigator; Hochstadt, an antitrust litigator; and Silbert, an appellate litigator (and my law school classmate; congrats, Greg!).

Weil’s class of new partners reminds me of Skadden’s: it’s large, and it’s international. As noted in the press release by executive partner Barry Wolf, “Their geographical diversity reflects the growth of the firm and we could not be more proud.”

7. Simpson Thacher & Bartlett: Here are the four new partners at STB:

Grenfel S. Calheiros (Corporate – São Paulo)
Gareth Earl (Corporate – London)
Anthony D. King (Corporate/Real Estate – New York/Hong Kong)
David A. Shevlin (Exempt Organizations – New York)

This is a very interesting, surprising group. No litigators. No women. No U.S.-based transactional partners (because King now works out of Hong Kong). Shevlin is an exempt-organizations lawyer who joined the firm in 1992 and served as senior counsel before his election to partner. (His practice area isn’t super-lucrative, which may explain why they kept him in the waiting room for so long; remember that STB is more or less lockstep, meaning that the firm can’t just make a ton of partners and pay them wildly varying amounts.)

In the prior year, Simpson named a much more traditional partnership class — and a much larger class, with twelve new partners. The Simpson class reminds me of the Davis class: a quirky, small partner class, following on the heels of a much larger one.

8. Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton: We gave the new Cleary partners a quick-shout out back in the CGSH bonus post. Kudos to these eight new partners:

Gabriele Antonazzo – London – M&A
Luke A. Barefoot – New York – Bankruptcy
Patrick R. Bock – Washington, D.C. – Antitrust
François-Charles Laprévote – Brussels – Antitrust/International Trade
Elizabeth Lenas – New York – Private Investment Funds
Polina Lyadnova – London – Financial Transactions/Capital Markets
Pamela L. Marcogliese – New York – Capital Markets/Corporate Governance
Paul R. St. Lawrence – Washington, D.C. – Structured Finance

It’s hard to generalize about this group (which is perhaps true of Cleary lawyers more broadly). If you read the full press release, you’ll see that many of these new partners have fairly wide-ranging legal experience, touching on many different areas of the law. In terms of straight-up demographics, there are five men and three women (Gabriele is a guy). Three of the new partners are based in New York, two are based in D.C., two are based in London, and one is based in Brussels.

9. Kirkland & Ellis: K&E announced its 84 new partners back in October 2012. You can check out their names, practice areas, and offices in the press release.

Now, 84 might sound like an insane number of new partners. In many cities, an 84-attorney firm would be the largest shop in town. But remember that Kirkland has a different system from many of the other firms mentioned in this round-up. These 84 “partners” are non-equity partners, or “non-share partners” in Kirkland parlance. As we previously explained:

It’s important to remember that Kirkland & Ellis has a fairly large class of non-equity or income partners. Kirkland uses the “non-share partner” classification liberally, and they tend to make more lawyers “partners,” at earlier stages in their careers. Some K&E “partners” would be senior associates at other firms.

With all due respect to the 84 new K&E partners, whom we heartily congratulate, we’d be more interested in learning the number and identities of Kirkland’s newest share partners. If you have such information, feel free to share it. (Across the entire 1,600-lawyer firm, there are about 300 share partners, at least according to the latest Am Law 100 rankings.)

10. Latham & Watkins: Like Kirkland & Ellis, Latham has a two-tier partnership (although Latham doesn’t have as many non-equity partners as K&E). In November 2012, Latham announced 18 new partners (listed in office alphabetical order in the press release):

Chicago – Shaun D. Hartley – Corporate/M&A
Frankfurt – Christine Gärtner – Litigation
London – Ross Anderson – Finance and Banking
London – Mohamed Nurmohamed – Finance and Banking
Los Angeles – Melanie M. Blunschi – Litigation
Los Angeles – Duncan Joseph Moore – Environmental
Moscow – David Stewart – Capital Markets
New York – Stephen B. Amdur – Corporate
New York – Paul F. Kukish – Corporate/M&A
New York – Amy C. Maloney – Project Finance
New York – Graeme P. Smyth – Finance
Orange County – David C. Lee – Corporate/M&A
Paris – Lionel Dechmann – Finance
San Diego – Jake Ryan – Litigation/IP Litigation
Silicon Valley – James A. Metz – Tax/Executive Compensation/Employee Benefits
Singapore – Sharon Lau – Corporate
Washington, D.C. – Manu Gayatrinath
Washington, D.C. – Nathan H. Seltzer – Litigation

Partner classes reflect their firms. As you can see from its large and far-flung partner class, Latham is competing with the likes of Skadden and Weil in the “global law firm” category. The 18 new L&W partners practice out of 12 different offices on three different continents. Five of the 18 are women (Shaun Hartley is a man, and Manu Gayatrinath is a woman).

Whew! Our trip around the globe to survey the new partner classes at ten top firms has left us quite exhausted. Can someone please hand us a hot face cloth?

So what can we say as a result of our review? Here are a few quick and dirty observations:

  • Taken collectively, these ten firms seem to be thriving, based on the healthy size, diversity, and geographical reach of their new partner classes.
  • This may lend support for the theory that the top firms — and these are the top firms, in terms of the closely correlated metrics of prestige, partner profits, and pay — are breaking away from the firms just a little bit below them.
  • At the same time, successful firms take many forms. Some are relatively small, focused, and New York-centric, like Wachtell and Cravath, while others are large, broad-based, and globally oriented, like Skadden, Weil, and Latham.
  • Transactional practice seems to be where it’s at. Litigators don’t dominate these lists.
  • Biglaw is making a big bet on the internationalization of law. There seem to be many more partners based outside the U.S. in this list compared to our new partner list from two years ago (although note that the ten featured firms changed; Covington & Burling and Williams & Connolly were replaced by Kirkland & Ellis and Latham & Watkins, based on changes in the Vault rankings).

Of course, these are just our observations, casual and anecdotal in nature. As always, we welcome additional information, opinions, and corrections. You can email us, text us (646-820-8477), or write something in the comments.

As noted above, this survey looked at just ten firms. What did your firm do in terms of new partners this year? What practices areas or offices are rising, and which ones are falling? What about the diversity of the new partner class at your firm? And is it getting harder to make partner at your firm? (Of course it is, but maybe tell us how much harder.)

Feel free to discuss in the comments — or if there’s some particularly juicy backstory about partner picking at your firm that would merit a freestanding story, please let us know. Thanks.

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