Law Firms

After Losing at Least 38 Partners This Year, McDermott Focuses on Strategic Growth

The co-chairs of McDermott Will & Emery are upbeat about the firm’s position, despite the loss of at least 38 partners this year, some of them practice group leaders. The firm is still expanding, they say, and is committed to strategic growth.

The Am Law Daily interviewed 11 former partners and three legal recruiters and consultants about the reasons for the losses. They cited internal disagreements over strategy and direction. More specifically, they criticized:

• The law firm’s two-tier partnership structure, where lower paid, lower tier partners have to wait up to 15 years for equity status.

• Practice groups that hoard work rather than sharing with other practice areas.

• International expansion that increases overhead and puts upward pressure on hourly billing rates.

The firm’s co-chairs, Jeffrey Stone and Peter Sacripanti, told the Am Law Daily that McDermott has retained its senior business leaders and it continues to provide top-notch legal services. With lateral acquisitions, the firm has grown this year in head count, gross revenues and profits, they say. Among the acquisitions are 25 new lawyers in the firm’s intellectual property practice. “There is an intelligent and strategic growth initiative going on here,” Stone told the publication.

The firm continues to keep costs low, it has no bank debt, and it continues to enforce its “no asshole” policy. “We don’t allow screamers in the hallway or people that are abusive to staff,” Stone says.

Sacripanti commented on the departures this way: “Some were voluntary and some were involuntary, and I’ll just leave it at that.”

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