Hogan Lovells, with the end of Shearman & Sterling merger talks, plans to grow in New York by poaching attorneys, adding finance work and possibly considering a new tie-up.
The goal is for New York to eventually rival Hogan’s biggest operations in the world, including the Washington, London and Paris offices, said Miguel Zaldivar, Hogan’s chief executive officer, in an interview.
The firm has “a very clear mandate” to build—including in New York, with a goal of reaching $3 billion in annual revenue, Zaldivar said. “Hogan Lovells doesn’t need to merge. Do we want to grow? Yes.”
The discussions between Hogan and Shearman, a New York-founded operation with strong Wall Street roots, ended with both parties saying in a March 2 statement “that a combination at this time is not in the best interest of either firm.”
Law firms have stepped up merger conversations after a lull in the early stages of the pandemic. Firms are seeking to strengthen profitable practice areas to better compete with large rivals and stave off new competition as states experiment with allowing non-lawyer-owned legal entities.
Hogan already boasts 16 of 20 top global financial institutions as clients though wants to further expand its “high-end” finance work in New York, Zaldivar said.
“It would broaden our offering significantly if we tapped into the New York finance community at the same level” of business the firm conducts in its other major cities, Zaldivar said.
But the firm has more growing to do before New York rivals those other big offices. Hogan currently has 121 lawyers in the city, compared with 414 in Washington, 479 in London and 167 in Paris, according to the firm.
Hogan has been adding partners in the city, including Peter Cohen-Millstein and Megan Ridley-Kaye from Linklaters, who do mergers and acquisitions work, and Kristy Greenberg, former deputy chief of the criminal division with the U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York.
The work Hogan hopes to build upon has included representing Berkshire Hathaway Energy in a project to deploy the first-of-a-kind TerraPower reactor and working with the Tampa Bay Lightning and its owner, Jeffrey Vinik, to provide one of the first private equity investments in National Hockey League history.
The firm is also open to opportunities to grow its life sciences practice in Washington and its tech practice in California, Zaldivar said.
$3 Billion Mark
Hogan collected $2.43 billion in revenue last year, according to the firm, and Zaldivar said he would like to surpass $3 billion.
When you reach the $3 billion mark, he said, “you can choose the talent that you want to attract and the areas that you want to attract” that align with clients’ needs.
He didn’t say when the firm would get there. “Are we obsessed with $3 billion?” Zaldivar said. “No. Do we need to get to $3 billion in one year? No.”
Only the top five law firms as ranked by the American Lawyer based on 2021 revenue collections surpassed $3 billion. Hogan ranked ninth.
Kent Zimmermann, a law firm consultant with the Zeughauser Group, said he understands Zaldivar’s priority on surpassing the $3 billion revenue threshold.
The more revenues the firm brings in, he said, “the more money there is to spend” on things like partner compensation and legal technology.
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