17 King & Spalding
In 2015 King & Spalding broke the billion-dollar mark in revenue – the first Atlanta-based firm to do so – and thus cemented its place among the law firm elite. Revenue of $1.02 billion represented a 9 per cent increase over 2014, which chairman Robert Hays has attributed to the firm’s expansion in terms of the number of partners and an uptick in work in the areas of global disputes, government investigations, energy, financial institutions, life sciences and healthcare, and technology. As of January 2016 the firm made up 24 new partners and 16 new counsel across 10 offices.
PEOPLE AND PRACTICES
King & Spalding’s international arbitration practice boasts an “outstanding reputation” in the market. Doak Bishop and Edward Kehoe co-head the practice which represents clients in investment treaty and commercial arbitration. Bishop is a “standout figure” and is considered “user-friendly, with outstanding analytical capacities” while Kehoe is a “formidable lawyer” with “excellent attention to detail”. Margrete Stevens in DC “knows all there is to know about investment treaty arbitration” and is a former senior counsel at ICSID. The “sensational” Guillermo Aguilar Alvarez in New York and “energy expert” John Bowman in Texas are also highly recommended.
The energy and natural resources practice comprises more than 250 lawyers assisting clients in more than 90 countries. The firm recently advised Eagle LNG on two LNG liquefaction projects in Florida. Partners Kenneth Culotta and James Bowe Jr advised on the transaction working closely with the company’s in-house counsel. Culotta is leader of the firm’s global transactions practice group and his expertise lies in complex cross-border transactions where he “brings real value to clients”. Bowe has a particular focus on the natural gas and electric power industries, and clients appreciate his “commercial acumen” and “deep industry knowledge”. Philip Weems is co-head of the firm’s energy practice and he focuses on LNG, upstream transactions and energy maritime issues. He was previously the managing partner of the firm’s three offices in the Middle East and its Singapore office, and is an “unmatched talent” in the market. The practice will benefit from the firm’s latest office opening in Tokyo which will focus on energy-related matters in the Asia-Pacific region.
The firm’s international trade group is headquartered in the Washington, DC and Geneva offices and is composed of over 40 lawyers and consultants, many of whom are former government and WTO officials. Stephen Orava chairs the practice and divides his time between the two headquarters. He has substantial experience in WTO matters and is considered “world-class”. Christopher Cloutier provides “first-rate advice” drawing on his wealth of experience in the field, while Stephen Jones regularly represents domestic industries in trade remedy proceedings, administrative reviews and appellate litigation. Geneva-based Jasper Wauters is a “pre-eminent name” in the market whose work is considered “stellar”. He has a particular focus on WTO matters and is “highly sought after” for his negotiation and drafting skills in relation to free trade agreements.
The firm has an active and varied pro bono practice. Some of the highlights include being appointed independent counsel to the Special Court for Sierra Leone in the Charles Taylor trial, and conducting an extensive investigation in Sierra Leone culminating in the submission of a confidential legal and factual Report and Recommendation to the Court; as well as representing Guantanamo detainees from Yemen who had been imprisoned without charge; and developing a pilot pro bono programme with the Georgia Micro Enterprise Network to provide transactional services to low-income micro entrepreneurs and for-profit micro enterprises that exist in or will exist in an economically distressed area of Georgia.
Diversity is an integral part of the culture at King & Spalding and the firm has a standing committee tasked with leading its diversity and inclusion efforts. The firm’s initiatives focus on developing and advancing the professional lives of women, encouraging and developing racial diversity within the firm, partnering the firm’s e-discovery group with minority or women-owned business enterprises, and maintaining its part-time programme. On top of this, the committee sponsors the Retreat for Diverse Lawyers, which typically includes workshops on mentoring, law firm economics, creating a professional development plan and personal development.