Defections, Key Client Loss Take Toll at Dow Lohnes
Sutherland raided Dow Lohnes again last week to pick up five technology, media, and telecom industry lawyers in D.C., including partners William Dudzinsky Jr., Michael Hepburn, and Paul Lang, as well as several junior lawyers, according to The BLT. The attrition has whittled away at a firm whose head count had remained steady for many years before the recent losses.
In 2005, Dow Lohnes’s D.C. office had 113 lawyers, 59 of whom were partners, according to data compiled by sibling publication The National Law Journal. When The NLJ expanded its national head count survey to 350 firms last year, Dow Lohnes came in at No. 346 with a combined 113 attorneys in D.C. and Atlanta. The latter office has traditionally been home to more than 30 lawyers. It now has 15 and Dow Lohnes officially dropped off The NLJ's 350 list this year.
Like many firms affected by the abrupt economic downturn that began five years ago, Dow Lohnes has felt the recession's sting. In 2008, the firm had 160 lawyers, gross revenue of $106 million, and profits per partner of $750,000, according to The American Lawyer’s annual Am Law 200 reporting.
The following year—one of the worst for Am Law 200 firms in recent memory—Dow Lohnes’s head count dropped to 150 lawyers and its gross revenue dipped to $98 million. On the upside, profits per partner held steady at $745,000.
In 2010, the firm's head count slipped again to 142 lawyers, though gross revenue was down only slightly to $95.5 million, and profits per partner were actually up a healthy 12.7 percent to $800,000. The firm's performance was not strong enough in either 2011 or 2012 to qualify it for inclusion on The Am Law 200.
Dow Lohnes renewed its D.C. lease for 147,000 square feet of space in 2006. The firm had a New York office it closed after unwinding a merger in the mid-1990s and until last year had an outpost in Norman, Oklahoma, headed by former Midwestern regional managing partner Christopher Meazell, who was teaching at the University of Oklahoma's law school. Meazell remains of counsel with Dow Lohnes and is currently director of the master of studies in law program at the Wake Forest University School of Law.
Valuable Assets Remain
Even amid the departures, the financial struggles, and the Cox loss, one former Dow Lohnes partner notes that though the firm missed out on the “matchmaking game” when approached by larger suitors in the past, the firm still has many key partners and practice areas that could be attractive to potential merger partners or firms looking to poach certain groups.
Dow Lohnes bolstered its lobbying practice in 2007 with the addition of Rick Kessler and Stephen Sayle in order to expand the group beyond its traditional telecom ties. While Sayle appears to have left the firm—he is no longer listed on its website and an email sent to his work address bounced back—Senate records show Dow Lohnes has reaped more than $700,000 in lobbying fees so far this year representing clients like Calpine, Chevron, the Electric Power Supply Association, the Iroquois Gas Transmission System, ITC Holdings, J2 Global, National Grid, Qualcomm, and Tenaska.
Michael Goldstein—who founded and cochairs the firm's higher education industry practice, one of the nation’s leading groups advising postsecondary education clients—is another notable name still with the firm. Dow Lohnes, which served as regulatory counsel to a private equity consortium that acquired Education Management Corp. for $3.4 billion in 2006, also handles lobbying work for such education-related clients as Career Education Corp., DeVry, and the Florida Barber Academy, according to Senate filings.
Dow Lohnes is also a longtime leader in the telecom sector. Past assignments include advising private equity firm Thomas H. Lee Partners in its role as part of a consortium that acquired Clear Channel Communications for $17.9 billion in a deal completed in 2008 after some legal wrangling.