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Arnall Golden Breaks $1M PEP Milestone

Jonathan Eady, Arnall Golden Gregory, Atlanta. (Photo: John Disney/ALM)

Jonathan Eady, Arnall Golden Gregory, Atlanta. (Photo: John Disney/ALM)

In another year of solid growth, Arnall Golden Gregory reported its sixth consecutive year of increases in revenue and profit—and marked a couple of financial milestones.

Revenue increased 6.9 percent—and broke the $100 million mark—to $106 million, following a 5.5 percent increase in 2017. Net income increased 6.1 percent to $45.8 million for the Atlanta-based firm.

That pushed profit per equity partner (PEP) over the $1 million mark for the first time—to $1,066,000, a 13.5 percent jump. Revenue per lawyer grew 8.3 percent to $716,000.

“Those are nice milestones, but I focus more on consistent year-over-year improvement,” said Arnall Golden’s managing partner, Jonathan Eady.

“It was a very strong year across the whole firm,” he said. “We were up in every major practice area.”

As to predictions by some of an economic downturn, Eady said he has not seen any signs so far at Arnall Golden, and he noted that the national data continues to be mixed, citing low unemployment and continued economic growth nationally.

But, as a real estate lawyer, he said, “I know that everything cycles. I’d be somewhat surprised if we’re not really near the end of the cycle.”

“Our approach to growth and hiring is so stable that we wouldn’t expect a major disruption, regardless,” he added.

The firm’s average lawyer head count remained stable last year, decreasing by a net of two lawyers to 148. The equity partner count dipped from 46 to 43, as the firm marked the retirements of partners Warren Kingsley and Marc Peterzell.

Arnall Golden added three lateral partners in 2018. Rebekah Plowman, who has a health care litigation and regulatory practice, joined from Jones Day. Corporate and securities partner Brian Teras joined from Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough. Corporate partner Adam Skorecki returned to the firm after a stint as the general counsel of Sysco, one of Arnall Golden’s major clients.

In March, the firm added two former SEC lawyers, Adriaen Morse as a partner and Troy Brown as counsel, in its litigation and government investigations practice in Washington. Both came from Morse’s firm, Morse Law Office.

The Work

On the corporate front, Arnall Golden advised fiber-optic provider Horizon Telcom on its $220 million acquisition by Canadian private equity firm Novacap. Eady said more than 25 lawyers at Arnall Golden worked on the deal.

The firm handled several acquisitions for Sysco, including the purchase of HFM FoodService in Hawaii, as Sysco expanded into new markets.

In a big Georgia health care deal, Arnall Golden represented the Chatham County Hospital Authority in its $710 million sale of Memorial Health in Savannah to Hospital Corporation of America. The HCA acquisition turned the public hospital into a for-profit, but as part of the deal created a $25 million trust overseen by the Chatham County Hospital Authority to continue providing indigent care to county residents.

Arnall Golden continues to represent the Integral Group in the massive mixed-use project, Assembly, which Integral is redeveloping on the site of the former General Motors plant in Doraville.

Eady, who represents Integral, said the developer has several pending deals under contract that are not yet public, which it hopes to close in the next few months. They will “add to the critical mass of activity,” he said, spurred by the openings of Serta Simmons Bedding’s headquarters this year and Third Rail Studios in 2016, which kicked off the first phase of development in the Assembly Yards zone. In March, Integral announced its plans for a free, self-driving shuttle to connect users to MARTA and other transit points.

In another mixed-use deal, Arnall Golden represented developer Trammell Crow on a new hotel and office project adjacent to Perimeter Mall with direct access to the Dunwoody MARTA station.

In litigation, the firm defended two clients in potential class actions: Worldpay US over claims of hidden credit card fees and First Advantage Background Screening Services over claims of violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

The Worldpay cases, Alghadeer Bakery v. Worldpay US and Acebedo & Johnson v. Worldpay US, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, have been stayed and the parties are in mediation with an eye to a settlement, according to court documents.

First Advantage has agreed to settle with the plaintiffs in Bankhead v. First Advantage, also filed in the Northern District of Georgia, for $1.98 million, which covers a settlement class of almost 25,000, according to a proposed settlement agreement filed in April.

“The way clients define success in litigation is when we make it go away,” Eady said.

Arnall Golden’s health care practice stayed busy advising hospice and nursing home clients on regulatory matters, Eady said. The firm advised hospice operator Curo Health Services on matters related to its $1.4 billion acquisition by Humana and two private equity firms, which announced the deal just after buying Kindred Healthcare, which also has a hospice business.

The firm also advised Formation Capital, an Atlanta-based investor in nursing homes, on regulatory issues, Eady said, as the nursing home industry “continued to struggle with levels of reimbursement and other regulatory challenges.”