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The National Law Journal
For Washington law offices, the long era of uncertainty is not yet over.
Our surveys gauging headcounts in D.C. law offices and the revenues of top lobby shops yielded decidedly mixed results. Headcounts for leading law firms continued to drop. Yet revenues at lobby shops, including those connected to law firms, rose for another year, despite the lingering recession.
In the Legal Times 150, firms were asked to provide data for each office in the Washington metropolitan area including the District of Columbia; Montgomery and Prince George's counties in Maryland; and Arlington and Fairfax counties and the cities of Alexandria and Falls Church in Virginia.
The headcount numbers are as of December 31, 2011 a change in methodology, starting this year and going henceforth, from the previous April 1 to April 1 periods we've studied. The numbers do not include contract or staff attorneys, patent agents or summer associates. The firms were asked to tally full-time equivalents.
The number of attorneys in the D.C. area at the end of last year declined by 3 percent, to just shy of 14,500 lawyers. Though not as dire as 2009, when D.C. law offices lost 4.5 percent of their attorney workforce, the steady decrease was cause for concern for some firm managing partners.
D.C. lobby shops have less reason to be fearful these days. According to our 2011 Influence 50 survey, the top 50 lobby practices continued to cruise, showing a 4 percent revenue spike from 2010. In fact, lobbying practices haven't showed a revenue decline since the Influence 50 survey was first published in 2005.
And for the first time, two Washington lobby practices, with Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld and Patton Boggs, broke the $100 million barrier. "If you have a growing practice, sooner or later you'll get there," said Akin's Smith Davis.
Finally, this is the first year we're running The National Law Journal's Hill Hot List, which highlights the work of 15 Capitol Hill lawyers. The profiles focus on the vital roles they have played in the passage of key legislation in recent years.
Note: The D.C. 25, originally slated to run this week, was held because of data-collection issues. It will run in an upcoming issue of The National Law Journal.
Sam Skolnik, deputy editor
At Washington law offices, headcount keeps dropping
The LT 150: The D.C. metro area's largest law offices
D.C. lobby shops sustain their growth streak in 2011
THE HILL HOT LIST