Law Firms

After a difficult 2013, Dickstein Shapiro is on track for a solid year, chairman says

Dickstein Shapiro has been in the news in the past year for a drop in revenue and the loss of several lawyers and lobbyists.

This year, says Dickstein chairman Jim Kelly, “We’re on track and are very happy with our performance.”

Kelly spoke with the Washington Post about the firm’s finances after gross revenue last year dropped 20 percent and net income dropped 35 percent. Revenue per lawyer, however, dropped only 3 percent. The firm also lost several lawyers and lobbyists in the past year, including 13 lawyers and lobbyists who went to Greenberg Traurig, along with Dickstein’s biggest lobbying client, Lorillard.

Today Dickstein Shapiro has about 225 lawyers, a drop of nearly 40 percent from the 360 lawyers at the firm five years ago.

This year, Kelly said, productivity measured by billable hours is “solid,” the firm has a “strong capital base” with no debt, and it is comfortable with its recoveries in contingency cases so far this year. He also notes that the firm has seen a 85 percent increase in the amount of business from its top 50 clients in the last five years.

Kelly also says the firm has hired a chief operating officer, is experimenting with new fee arrangements, and is giving more flexibility to practice groups, which will make their own decisions about how many summer associates to hire each year. Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert is the new leader of the firm’s lobbying group, and he says the lobbying practice isn’t “falling apart, we’re building up.”

The article also says Dickstein “stands apart in terms of its appetite for potentially risky contingency work,” historically allocating 5 to 12 percent of lawyer work hours to contingency cases. Last year, contingency recoveries didn’t match the investment time, Kelly said. This year, he said, the firm is “quite pleased” with the recoveries so far.

Typographical error in sixth paragraph was corrected at 9:15 a.m. to state that the firm is experimenting with new fee arrangements.

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