Cooley pushes revenue to $2.03bn as lawyer ranks decrease

Tech-focused firm sees PEP grow 8.2% following almost 20% decline in 2022

London managing partner Justin Stock Image courtesy of Cooley

Cooley shrugged off a headcount decline in 2023 to grow revenue 1.4% to a new high of $2.03bn, against an 8.2% increase in profits per equity partner (PEP) to $3.54m.  

The results mark the second-most profitable year for the firm after 2021, when a record deals market helped push up PEP by 28% to just over $4m, before falling back to $3.27m in 2022 amid a sharp downturn in global M&A, talent expenses and overcapacity that saw the firm announce layoffs at the end of that year.  

Meantime, the latest turnover increase is in line with the incremental gain in 2022 that saw the firm pass the $2bn mark for the first time, having upped revenue 28% in 2021 to $1.99bn.  

Revenue per lawyer at the Palo Alto-headquartered firm also grew 9.8% to $1.56m, indicating substantial productivity gains.  

Cooley’s overall lawyer headcount dropped 7.2% last year to 1,305 as the firm moved to align itself with slowed demand after aggressively hiring during 2020 and 2021. The firm’s equity partner ranks also dropped slightly, from 247 in 2022 to 241.  

Revenue in the firm’s 120-lawyer London office grew 8.3% last year to $103.1m, having remained essentially static in 2022 after a whopping increase of nearly 50% the year before as the firm dominated work coming from the UK’s emerging companies market.  

London managing partner, Justin Stock, said: “In 2023 we continued to strengthen our brand in London as a leading firm for the tech and life sciences industries, including for complex cross border and regulatory matters, and for innovative companies and venture backed businesses in other sectors defining the modern economy. We look forward to building on our platform in 2024.”

Standout hires for the London office last year included veteran life sciences M&A partner Simon Amies from Covington & Burling and Jenner & Block’s global arbitration chair Charlie Lightfoot.  

Work highlights for the London M&A team included acting for Amryt Pharma on its $1.48bn acquisition by Chiesi Farmaceutici and Horizon Therapeutics on the regulatory aspects of its $28bn acquisition by Amgen – the biggest healthcare deal of the year.  

On the litigation side the London team represented Whirlpool in High Court proceedings relating to the Grenfell Tower fire and Tata Steel UK in proceedings against Liberty companies arising from their acquisition of TSUK’s speciality business.

A highlight for the firm in the US last year was the launch of an office in Miami – its 19th globally – to work with clients based in Florida and Latin America on capital raises, regulatory and compliance matters and accessing global capital markets. The firm relocated corporate and M&A partner Derek Colla from Washington DC to lead the office.  

Meantime in September Cooley announced that corporate partner Rachel Proffitt would take over as chief executive officer at the start of this year from Joe Conroy, who had held the role since 2008 and has continued as chairman following the transition. 

During Conroy’s tenure as CEO the firm doubled head count and grew gross revenues from under $500m to more than $2bn. 

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