Reed Smith surpasses $1 billion in revenues

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Reed Smith's global revenues topped $1 billion in 2012 for the first time -- driven by healthy increases in the law firm's energy work and continued growth in Asian markets.

Total revenues were $1.01 billion, up 2 percent from $993 million in 2011.

Crossing the billion-dollar mark was "a milestone ... but there was nothing easy about it, that's for sure," said Gregory Jordan, Reed Smith's managing partner who is based at its Downtown office.

"It's a really challenging environment out there. There's still less legal work than before the recession so there's a lot of price pressure. These are good results given the circumstances," he said.

Reed Smith has more than 1,700 attorneys in 25 offices worldwide, including recently opened outposts in Houston, Texas, and in Singapore. About 30 percent of total revenues are generated outside of the U.S.

Overall lawyer headcount slipped by about 1 percent last year, Mr. Jordan said, because of attrition and a slowdown in hiring. Revenue per lawyer rose by about 3 percent, from $668,000 to $690,000, while profits per partner increased by 6 percent to $1.08 million, from $1.02 million in 2011.

The financial results put Reed Smith just behind K&L Gates, the only other Pittsburgh firm with more than $1 billion in revenues. K&L, with 47 offices worldwide, last week reported revenues of $1.06 billion for 2012, virtually even from $1.062 billion the prior year.

Mr. Jordan expects the slow economic recovery to continue through 2013. "We're adding new lawyers in new markets but overall, we're being careful about hiring."

In Houston, the firm recently opened an office with 12 partners recruited from seven different law firms. Six of them will handle energy work. The office has 17 lawyers total, including an integration partner, three counsels and one associate.

Mr. Jordan expects another 10 to 15 lawyers to join the office in the next couple months.

"Obviously, it's a great market that ties into our energy strategy," he said.

Now that the firm is established in Texas -- a market it's been eyeing for several years and where several merger possibilities never came to fruition -- Reed Smith is considering new markets including Canada, Australia, Brazil and Frankfurt, Germany, said Mr. Jordan.

"We'll take some time and study those markets and maybe a few others, and figure out in a careful, strategic way what our next step will be," he said.

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