February 10, 2016
From The Am Law Daily

by Susan Beck

Polsinelli’s aggressive expansion strategy appeared to pay off in 2015, with the firm posting solid increases in revenue, profits per partner and revenue per lawyer.

Revenue at the Kansas City, Missouri-based firm rose 11.4 percent, to $410 million, last year, while revenue per lawyer was up 7.5 percent, to $570,000. In contrast to the prior year, when profits per partner declined, PPP jumped 11.5 percent, to $725,000, in 2015.

Polsinelli’s head count also increased, rising 3.9 percent, to 720 lawyers. The equity partnership grew 5.4 percent, to 118 partners, while the number of nonequity partners stayed essentially flat at 299. Compensation for all partners was up 8.4 percent to $450,000.

“This year was an affirmation that our investments in the prior few years have paid off,” said Polsinelli chairman and CEO W. Russell Welsh.

In 2014 the firm opened offices in San Francisco and Atlanta and significantly increased the size of its Washington, D.C., office. Last year it added locations in Nashville and Raleigh, bringing its number of offices to 17. In Nashville the firm added two partners from Frost Todd Brown to develop a niche practice helping clients buy, sell and fix distressed companies in the health care industry. In Raleigh it took five health care partners from Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough.

The firm also added a seven-lawyer health care team in Atlanta from Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton last year. Polsinelli has one of the largest health care legal practices in the nation.

In 2013 The American Lawyer outlined Polsinelli's strategy to use its concentration of lawyers in low-overhead markets, such as Kansas City and St. Louis, to compete for health care work and other price-sensitive assignments. Welsh said the firm has maintained that middle-market focus while also expanding in other major cities.

“We’re still committed to have our major offices in middle market cities, but we have added people in New York, Chicago and San Francisco,” said Welsh on Wednesday. “We’ll continue to [grow in bigger cities] while maintaining the vast majority of our people in the center of the country.”

Last year Polsinelli claimed the top spot on Modern Healthcare's 2015 Healthcare Law Firms Survey. U.S. News & World Report named it “Law Firm of the Year in Health Care" in 2014, but Nixon Peabody took that title in 2015. In addition to its health care group being busy, the firm’s commercial real estate lawyers helped drive the increased revenue, working on acquisitions and lending, Welsh said.

This growth hasn’t come without disruption in the firm’s partner ranks. Last year Polsinelli ranked third among current Am Law 200 firms for partner departures as a percentage of the partnership, according to our Lateral Report. Since the start of 2015, the firm has seen 62 partners leave, including retirements; it brought in 53 lateral partners during that time.

Polsinelli started a separate consulting practice in 2015, called the Reimbursement Institute, to provide information and advice on reimbursement policies related to Medicare, Medicaid and other programs.

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