Business of Law

'Revolution of Rising Expectations' Has Hurt Howrey, Where $600K PPP Was Once the Norm

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Only a decade ago, Howrey had an average profit per partner of $600,000.

But due to a “revolution of rising expectations” among BigLaw partners since then, rumors that the firm might fail to meet its PPP target of $940,000, providing perhaps only $750,000 to $850,000, on average, to its partners for their work last year, has contributed to a steady stream of departures, writes Steven Harper in the Am Law Daily. An adjunct law professor at Northwestern University, he recently retired from his partnership at Kirkland & Ellis.

The firm hit a high water mark of $1.3 million PPP in 2008, at which point chairman Robert Ruyak, who had steered the firm into focusing on three core practice areas—antitrust, intellectual property and litigation—was hailed by the Legal Times as a visionary.

But those who live by the sword also die by the sword, Harper points out:

“When cash becomes king, partnership bonds remain only as tight as the glue that next year’s predicted equity partner profits provide, assuming those predictions are believed.”

Related coverage: “As Howrey Hemorrhages, Observers Speculate re Possible Debt Issues, Winston Exposure” “Jones Day Snags 7-Partner Howrey Construction Team; 2 Others Go to Ober Kaler”

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