Akerman Revenue Grows by 4 Percent, Profit by 8 Percent

Akerman Revenue Grows by 4 Percent, Profit by 8 Percent

Akerman reports a solid year with a 4 percent rise in gross revenue to $337 million and an 8 percent boost in net income to $130 million.

While not as strong as the previous year's revenue growth rate of 9 percent, the gain reflects a fifth year of growth and a return to pre-recession levels.

The firm's attorney headcount rose to an all-time high of 620 lawyers and 20 lobbyists in 20 U.S. offices in the fiscal year ended Oct. 31. Akerman hasn't determined the full-time equivalents figure, but it reported 548 FTEs in its 2014 Am Law 100 survey.

Akerman is Florida's largest law firm by headcount based on the Daily Business Review's 2015 Review 100 ranking of firms, finishing ahead of Holland & Knight and Greenberg Traurig. The firm cracked the listing of top U.S. law firms this year for the first time, ranking 98th.

The Miami-based law firm's fiscal year ended Oct. 31. Profits per partner and other financial results are not yet available.

Andrew Smulian, Akerman's longtime chairman and CEO, said he was particularly proud that the firm grew its annual revenue by more than $100 million in five years from $236 million in 2010.

He said he was "really happy" about five consecutive years of revenue and net income growth.

Smulian attributed the firm's solid performance to rebounding real estate, corporate transactional, and mergers and acquisitions practices. He singled out the firm's Chicago and New York offices as particularly strong. Akerman opened its Chicago office with eight lawyers in 2014 and has grown to 42.

Smulian also cited several initiatives, including the launch of the Akerman Bench, a group of ex-judges who serve as an appellate sounding board; Akerman IN, a small office opened in the entrepreneurial incubator LAB Miami in Miami's Wynwood neighborhood; and a new data law practice, which will focus on data fraud.

The firm's corporate lawyers completed numerous middle-market transactions this year including Simply Healthcare Plans' sale to Anthem; the GEO Group's acquisition of eight correctional and detention facilities from LCS Corrections Services Inc.; and AutoNation's purchase and sale of dealerships around the country.

Akerman real estate lawyers worked on a number of groundbreaking deals over the past year involving All Aboard Florida, FedEx and Parmenter Realty Partners. Lawyers closed a complex lease for Bottega Veneta in New York, while Florida lawyers represented the buyer in the most expensive retail transaction in the state—a $370 million acquisition on Miami Beach's Lincoln Road.

In Los Angeles and Denver, real estate lawyers represented Northstar Commercial Partners in a $224 million, multistate, 24-property portfolio acquisition.

The firm's Latin American practice group assisted the government of Puerto Rico in securing designation as a public regional center under the EB-5 investor visa program.

Akerman's tax litigation department assisted the government of Nevis in revising its international exempt trust ordinance into one of the most comprehensive offshore trust laws in the world and achieved a state appeals court ruling for DirectTV that found higher tax rates on satellite services compared to cable services unconstitutional.

The practice group also successfully represented the Seminole Tribe of Florida in an appellate decision ruling the Florida commercial rental tax on Indian land was unconstitutional.

Intellectual property lawyers represented Bumble and Bumble in blocking the sale of counterfeit products and served as primary opinion counsel to Sandoz, a German pharmaceutical company. The lawyers also assisted singers and songwriters including Culture Club and Earth, Wind & Fire in recapturing U.S. copyrights to their works.

Akerman's litigators successfully represented Staples in a high-profile securities class action, Ameritox Ltd. in a class action suit against Millennium Laboratories over unfair competition and false advertising allegations, and cooperating witness Jesse Tortora in a high-profile insider trading case.

Additionally, bankruptcy lawyer Michael Goldberg served as liquidating trustee for Scott Rothstein's defunct Fort Lauderdale law firm, which collapsed under the weight of his $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme.

"I know for a fact that Akerman has the right formula," said Joe Ankus, a legal recruiter with Ankus Consulting of Weston. "They do not suffer from bureaucratic bloat, which has plagued other law firms. Akerman is a decisive hiring partner, which enables them to capitalize on opportunities more than competitors."

Akerman is preparing to move its Miami headquarters to Brickell City Centre from the SunTrust International Center. The firm is leasing 110,000-square-feet and 6½ floors in the new tower. The move was delayed from fall to late January due to construction delays.

The law firm has no plans to open new offices in the coming year, Smulian said.




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