Yesterday I wrote how some BigLaw firms are showing flat/down revenue, but an increase in profits. I don’t begrudge anyone making a profit, but let’s show some transparency about it all.

Today I came across JD Journal‘s reporting on my new #1 Favorite! Blank Rome Posts Across-the-Board Increases:

Blank Rome reports having a very solid 2009 as annual revenue was up 3 percent and profits per equity partner (PPP) jumped 13 percent. Gross revenue came in at $322 million, up from $312 million in 2008; and PPP rose from $588,000 to $667,000. Revenue per lawyer was also up 8 percent from $609,000 to $657,000. Co-chairman Alan Hoffman told the Philadelphia Business Journal that the firm had strong years from its offices in Los Angeles, Hong Kong and Princeton. He also added that PPP could have actually been increased by 26 percent, but the firm elected to take $12.5 million in profits to pre-pay some 2010 expenses. The number of full-time lawyers at Blank Rome actually declined from 512 to 490 and equity partners fell from 160 to 156. Blank Rome has eight offices in the United States and Hong Kong.

That’s all fine and dandy! I especially like hearing the part where the firm pre-paid 2010 expenses to keep the PPP down. They’re only recognizing an 8% increase in PPP, rather than a 26% increase. Wow! I bet some laterals are scrambling to get their CVs over to them as I type this. But how soon we forget these numbers, via Law Shucks:

  • 1/16/2009 – 12 attorneys laid off
  • 3/12/2009 – 79 people laid off – 27 attorneys/52 staff

Here’s the March 2009 statement made by Blank Rome, via Above the Law,

Global economic conditions continue to affect businesses in all sectors of the economy. As we face these unprecedented challenges, Blank Rome remains focused on new and innovative ways to provide value and excellent service to our clients. As a result, our core business is, and remains, strong. The Firm’s leadership recently engaged in a comprehensive review of our staffing levels. This review led us to conclude, regrettably, that further adjustments to our associate and staff complements were necessary. Specifically, we have reduced our complement of associates by 27 people and our staff complement by 52 people. In addition, the Firm has also determined that our Summer Associate program for 2009 should be reduced from ten to six weeks, and that the starting date for our Fall associates should be deferred until at least January 2010. We recognize the effect these actions will have on the individuals and their families, as well as our Firm. Although these types of decisions are difficult, we are confident that our actions this week were prudent, and have been made in the best interest of Blank Rome, our lawyers and staff, and our clients.

I’m sorry to call out Blank Rome. I’m sure they’re a nice firm. I’ve had friends who have worked there. But I didn’t realize laying off 91 people in the worst recession the country has faced since the Great Depression is considered one of the “new and innovative ways to provide value and excellent service” to your clients. If you’re all about making a buck, then go for it. Just be honest and transparent about it. Don’t use the recession and “client value” as cover for getting rid of staff and attorneys.