Tom Fitzgerald, the Chairman of Winston & Strawn, has stated that big law firms are investing more in mergers or lateral group hires to overcome the difficulties of organic growth in a competitive environment. This comes amid the recent wave of mergers in the Big Law sector, including the creation of a 1,000-plus lawyer firm by Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe through their merger with Buckley and Morrison & Foerster’s acquisition of the litigation boutique Durie Tangri. Plus, Shearman & Sterling and Hogan Lovells are in early-stage merger talks.
Fitzgerald is focused on growth in Northern California and has announced the hiring of two class action litigation partners from Squire Patton Boggs – Troy Yoshino and Eric Knapp. These hires are the first step towards replicating the firm’s Southern California growth. After hiring 18 attorneys in Los Angeles in 2021, 15 focused on white-collar and complex commercial litigation from Scheper Kim & Harris. Fitzgerald stated that the firm is always open to growth opportunities like group hires that align with its culture and strategy.
Winston & Strawn’s financial performance in 2022 is yet to be finalized. However, Fitzgerald believes that the year was much more typical of the firm’s business, following a record-setting 2021 in which the firm generated $1.15 billion in revenue, with partners earning an average of over $3 million. He also anticipates corporate dealmaking to resume once companies have more clarity on the trajectory of interest rate hikes. Fitzgerald stated that while the market for lateral associates has cooled, competition for partner hires remains strong. He believes that people are more willing to invest in strategic partner hires, as demonstrated by Winston & Strawn’s recent hires in San Francisco.
In conclusion, with organic growth becoming more challenging, big law firms are investing more in mergers or lateral group hires to achieve growth. Winston & Strawn, in particular, is focused on growth in Northern California and is always open to growth opportunities that align with its culture and strategy. Despite the cooling of the market for lateral associates, competition for partner hires remains strong, and Fitzgerald believes that people are more willing to invest in strategic partner hires.
Winston & Strawn Chair Navigates Big Law’s Changing Growth Game