2017 Annual Review | White & Case LLP International Law Firm, Global Law Practice

ANNUAL REVIEW
2017

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From our Chairman

For White & Case, 2017 was a year of growth and progress. We welcomed 72 new partners around the world, grew our lawyer numbers in line with our strategy, and saw global revenues climb by more than 11 percent.

We also reflected on our past, with the publication of a history of the Firm: White & Case: The First 100 Years & Beyond. The book describes how White & Case grew from a small New York office to a leading global law firm serving clients worldwide.

With more than 2,000 lawyers of 94 nationalities speaking 90 languages working in our offices around the world, our commitment to multiculturalism and diversity is as strong as ever. For the fourth year in a row, The American Lawyer ranked us first in its Diversity Scorecard.

We embrace our responsibility as a global citizen and a signatory of the UN Global Compact, and this guides our work resolving large-scale global issues as well as local pro bono matters. We are particularly proud to support the establishment of Bhutan’s first law school, which opened in 2017.

As we reach the halfway point in our 2020 strategy, we have made great progress in all three pillars—profitable growth, people engagement and client relationships. Our people and the way we work together make all the difference in how we serve our clients, within and across borders.

We will stay close to the issues affecting our clients and our people as we navigate shifting global dynamics. In an uncertain environment, our success increasingly depends on the strength of our relationships with each other.

 

Hugh Verrier

Brexit sparks employee reshuffle to EU capitals

Not content to wait for a final Brexit plan, international companies are already exploring shifting operations out of the United Kingdom to retain European Union advantages.

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New EU rules raise the stakes on data protection 

GDPR will strengthen data protection for individuals and simplify the regulatory environment by establishing a unified standard across the EU. But it poses significant challenges for companies.

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Potential US trade policy changes may bring worldwide effects

Businesses and governments can take steps to get ready for possible trade policy shifts under the new US administration.

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New York cybersecurity regulations may apply globally

Financial institutions around the world should consider whether their operations are subject to the NYDFS new cybersecurity regulations.

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Pressure builds on businesses to address human rights concerns

With regulators, shareholders and consumers all paying closer attention to human rights records, companies can’t ignore the risks of inaction.

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Perspectives
on business

Data and insights on key
issues that are shaping
global business dynamics.

US M&A shows enduring strength in 2017 and heading into 2018

M&A’s strategic relevance and strong fundamentals in the US fueled dealmaking in 2017—and are likely to continue to drive activity in 2018.

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Chinese cross-border M&A is likely to grow significantly over the next decade

Economic fundamentals suggest that Chinese outbound M&A will remain strong—if China can successfully manage short-term challenges.

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Financial services find rewards—and risks—in artificial intelligence

To ride the wave of AI, financial services companies will have to navigate evolving standards, regulations and risk dynamics—particularly regarding data rights, algorithmic accountability and cybersecurity.

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Sovereigns look to green bonds to finance sustainable growth

Green bonds allow sovereign issuers to diversify their investor base, support investment in sustainable infrastructure and conquer conservation challenges at a low cost of funding.

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North Sea decommissioning: Primed for a boom? 

The complexities and challenges associated with decommissioning North Sea offshore oil and gas assets have dampened M&A activity in the past—but change is coming. 

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Navigating the pitfalls in project-on-project structures

Without safeguards, the structure of choice for many refinery and petrochemical projects can expose sponsors and financiers to costly risks.

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As cloud-based outsourcing rises, financial regulations evolve 

Banks, regulators and cloud-based providers are forging new models for outsourcing in the financial sector. 

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Algorithms and bias: Outcomes may matter as much as intentions

New interpretations of the law could increase the risks of letting artificial intelligence make decisions where liability for unfair practices exists.

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Alternatives to prosecution in an age of global enforcement

When pursuing alternatives to prosecution, multinationals need global strategies to navigate potential enforcement actions from multiple national authorities.

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Securities class-action litigation is rising in the UK

Trends in class actions mean UK litigation culture may increasingly resemble that of the US. 

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Highlights
from our year

A selection of our work
from 2017, cutting across
practices and sectors,
including pro bono.

M&A and private equity 

We advised on 282 announced M&A deals with a US$339 billion+ aggregate value.

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Banking and capital markets 

We advised clients globally on innovative financing strategies and approaches.

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Disputes

We successfully represented clients in high-stake litigations and arbitrations.

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Project and asset finance

We represented clients in major projects on six continents.

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Global citizenship

Our pro bono work addressed some of the world's most pressing concerns.

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Supporting
our strategy:
Growth

Delivering on our five-year strategy

  

In mid-2015, White & Case launched a five-year strategy charting a route for the Firm’s growth. The strategy is designed to make White & Case stronger and better positioned for the future; a global elite law firm that is top of mind for global clients for their most complex, cross-border legal work; and an employer of choice for top talent.

Since then, we have been taking significant steps to deliver on that strategy by focusing on targeted, profitable growth, particularly in the United States and London, creating a more engaged firm and strengthening our global client relationships. The successes highlighted here illustrate how, midway to 2020, we are on track to reaching our goals.

  • The Firm’s revenue grew from US$1.523 billion in 2015 to a record US$1.80 billion in 2017, an 18.2% increase over two years. In 2017 alone, revenues grew by nearly 11%.
  • The number of lawyers in our New York office increased by more than 21% over the past two years, while revenue in our London office grew by 13% in the past year.
  • We created an employee value proposition for our people centered on how working at White & Case opens doors to experiences and relationships worldwide that help them build their careers.

In 2017, we moved to a state-of-the-art office in New York that fosters interaction and collaboration among our people and between the Firm and our clients, and is providing a blueprint for our other offices worldwide.

Key statistics

Office anniversaries, five years of revenue growth, our lawyers and expanding in Australia

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Awards & rankings

Our work for clients earned external recognition with awards and top rankings worldwide in 2017.

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Building the law firm of the future

In 2017, White & Case’s New York office moved to a state-of-the-art space reflecting our culture and values.

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Firm history book documents more than a century of growth

On May 1, 2017, White & Case celebrated its 116th anniversary and marked the occasion with the presentation of a new book on the Firm’s history: White & Case: The First 100 Years & Beyond.

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New partners

In 2017, 33 new partners joined White & Case and 39 Firm lawyers were promoted, resulting in a total of 72 new partners.

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Supporting
our strategy:
Our people

Engaging our people to achieve our strategic goal

White & Case’s five-year 2020 strategy sets ambitious goals for the Firm. To achieve them, it’s essential everyone in the Firm understands the strategy, progress being made and the role they have to play. This can be a challenge in a global, multi-generational law firm.

To meet that challenge, the Firm focused on internal communications in 2017, offering partners and employees a menu of options for engaging with the Firm’s leadership, including face-to-face communication and digital and video channels. They all link back to the Firm’s 2020 strategy and support the Firm’s efforts to achieve those strategic goals.

The range of communications include:

  • The Reporter Daily:  Operating like a small online newspaper, The Reporter Daily showcases a minimum of three new stories covering the Firm and its people every day.
  • The Reporter Quarterly:  A digital publication providing insight into business and strategy.
  • Global Strategy Forum:  Led by Chairman Hugh Verrier, this is a global meeting for the entire Firm by video conference in real time. The first meeting, held in May, was very successful, with every office connected.
  • Video updates:  To supplement the Strategy Forum, a quarterly video update, each time from a different member of the Executive Committee, was introduced.

The new internal communications approach is having a direct impact on the way our people engage with and understand our 2020 strategy. The aim is to enhance our collaboration with one another and the service we provide to our clients.

Diversity and inclusion

In 2017, we focused on strengthening our Firm culture, aiming to make our diverse workplace more inclusive.

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A winning World Cup event

Hosted by our Bratislava office, the World Cup was held in Vienna and featured football and volleyball events. Team Berlin won the football final, while Team Bratislava was victorious in the volleyball final.

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Transforming our recruiting efforts with associates’ insights

First impressions count—particularly when it comes to attracting the best talent. So, when it came time to transform our recruiting efforts, we turned to our associates for their insights. 

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Supporting
our strategy:
Clients

Serving clients worldwide with our global reach

  

  

  

Strengthening client relationships through lawyer secondments

In 2017, more than 100 White & Case lawyers were deployed to work hand-in-hand with our clients on secondments.

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Finding opportunity amid disruption

In the autumn of 2017, we held a coordinated seminar series, “Making sense of a fragmenting world,” in three cities to help clients and colleagues navigate a shifting global landscape.

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Partnering with BNP Paribas on LGBT Pride parade events

In 2017, White & Case took its partnership with longstanding client BNP Paribas to promote LGBT diversity to a new level.

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