Locke Lord's MP Clements Weighs in on Patton Boggs Talks

, The Am Law Daily

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Jerry Clements
Jerry Clements

Lord Lord's deep roots in energy-rich Texas are another attractive option for Patton Boggs, which has publicly expressed an interest in opening an office in Houston and expanding its presence in the Lone Star State. Just this month, Locke Lord nabbed a lead role advising Tulsa-based NGL Energy Partners on its $890 million acquisition of The Gavilon Group’s energy business. Other key Locke Lord energy industry clients include Kinder Morgan, Southern Union and Texas Pacific Group.

During Clements' tenure at the top of Locke Lord—she was reelected managing partner in 2011—the firm has enjoyed a period of financial stability, something that few Am Law 100 firms can claim over the past few years as the U.S. legal services market has contracted in the aftermath of the global economic downturn.

Locke Lord’s gross revenues remained mostly flat from 2008 through 2010, before jumping to $416 million in 2011 and $425.5 million last year, according to The American Lawyer's annual Am Law 100 reporting. Profits per partner have risen from $955,000 in 2008 to roughly $1.1 million in 2012, while Am Law 100 data shows that revenue per lawyer has also increased during that time from $730,000 to $830,000. Locke Lord’s equity partnership has grown from 136 in 2008 to 151 last year.

PATTON BOGGS’ FUTURE

While Locke Lord's finances have remained relatively stable in recent years, Patton Boggs' have wobbled a bit. Despite it public policy prowess, the latter saw its profits per partner plunge 15 percent to $735,000 in 2012, while gross revenue fell another 6.5 percent to $317.5 million, according to Am Law 100 data.

In reporting on D.C.’s highest-grossing law offices earlier this year, sibling publication The National Law Journal noted that Patton Boggs had experienced the sharpest decline among the 25 firms it surveyed, with the portion of the firm’s revenue generated in the nation’s capital dipping 7 percent to $207 million in 2012. That means nearly two-thirds of the firm’s revenue last year was tied to D.C., with about half of that connected to lobbying work, according to The NLJ.

Indeed, Patton Boggs remains a market leader in the lobbying arena, with Newberry, Tommy Boggs, and partners Micah Green and Kevin O’Neill recently making The Hill’s list of top Beltway lobbyists. Also making the list are senior counsel Trent Lott and John Breaux of the Breaux Lott Leadership Group, which Patton Boggs acquired in 2010. (As Roll Call reported earlier this year, Newberry himself has had to cut back his lobbying work since taking on a more administrative role as firm leader.)

Patton Boggs has been hit with some losses in its public policy group. Former legislative and public affairs partner Jonathan Yarowsky left in July to chair the same practice at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, according to sibling publication The Blog of Legal Times. Politico noted last month that since moving to Wilmer, Yarowsky had picked up three new lobbying clients: the American Association for Justice, the Association of American Railroads, and the Business Software Alliance.

As lucrative as lobbying has historically been for Patton Boggs, lobbying revenues have slipped this year, and the firm has been forthright about its efforts to reinvent itself. Patton Boggs' lobbying clients have occasionally created other kinds of headaches.

In July, Patton Boggs cut its ties to Ecuador, a South American nation that has been embroiled in a long-running dispute with oil giant Chevron that recently spilled into federal court in Manhattan. Burford Capital, a third-party litigation fund that has settled with Chevron after claiming it was defrauded by plaintiffs in a suit against the company, is now helping the energy giant in its counterclaim against Patton Boggs, which has accused Burford of betrayal in court documents.

Newberry, who took control of Patton Boggs three years ago from former managing partner Stuart Pape, told The Am Law Daily last week that the Chevron case hasn’t had the negative impact on the firm's energy transactional group that many might have expected.

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