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For the first time since 1996, the U.S. government has ground to a halt. The House of Representatives and the Senate are at odds over funding and all signs point to a continuing bitter fight. The National Law Journal and its sister publications at ALM will provide coverage throughout the shutdown.
LAW SCHOOLS REPORT
Finance and accounting, management, leadership and entrepreneurship — all components of a business education, not a legal one, right? Not anymore. A growing number of law schools are borrowing a page from the MBA playbook and adding courses intended to give students a foundation in business, in addition to the law.
Don't fear for the future of the legal profession in Chicago; judging by our survey of the city's rising stars, it's in very good hands. We asked our readers to nominate up-and-comers and snooped around on our own to compile this list of achievers in Chicago's law firms, corporate law departments and the legal academy.
Boston's biotech industry is steadily gaining strength, and Portland's alternative energy and tourism sectors are serving that city well. But in areas outside the cities, places where small firms and solo lawyers practice, potential clients are cash-strapped. The upshot for region: movement, ever so slowly, in the right direction.
Washington lawyers tackled some of the most notable transactions in the country last year in an array of industries, navigating complex mergers and acquisitions, real estate deals and project financing.
Some of the nation's best litigators tell how they prevailed in big cases against the odds.
Across the nation's midsection, the terrain is distinctly uneven. Detroit's recent bankruptcy underscores the legal industry's difficulties there, especially since local law firms expect big outside firms to grab most of the legal work. Chicago, on the other hand, demonstrates strong signs of an improving economy. We've tracked those markets and others in this analysis of the successes and struggles throughout the Midwest.
We went looking for excellence among the litigation bar in Washington — and found plenty. Here's our take on the best all-around litigation shop in D.C. and an array of top-flight firms in six subspecialities.
THE NLJ 350
Our Regional Report takes the headcount numbers from our NLJ 350 survey and dices up the data, region by region.
• See the complete 2013 NLJ 350 survey results.
Washington's Managing Partners
The American Bar Association breaks down the types of jobs law school graduates have landed and whether they are full-time, long-term or short-term positions, and identifies the three states where graduates of each law school were most likely to find work.
We showcase 20 of the nation's top midsize law firms based on business strategies that have delivered noteworthy cases and prominent deals to their doors. Winning a spot on the list are law firms that, for their clients' purposes, are not too big, not too small, but just right.
How much does the federal government spend on outside legal services? And who gets the work? Until now, the answers haven't been clear. National Law Journal reporter Andrew Ramonas examined 67,000 records over the last year, and for the first time we lay out the scope of legal spending by federal agencies. We've found who wins the contracts and which vendors, including many top law firms, earned the most.
For the first time ever, we are making all of the hiring data from our annual Go-To Law Schools special report available online. Search by law school to find out which NLJ 250 firms hired their 2012 graduates or by firm to see where new associate hires were educated.
The NLJ's annual report on law schools that send their graduates to major law firms found prospects just marginally brighter for 2012 grads. Plus, fewer law firms are showing up for on-campus interviews, and midsize firms are benefiting from a more prestigious applicant pool.
The National Law Journal recognizes the D.C. metro area's top in-house departments, and their general counsel, in six categories: overall excellence; outside counsel management; technology; diversity and quality of life; pro bono and community service; and corporate compliance.
They may be small, but they command attention. The 10 law firms on our Litigation Boutiques Hot List, each fielding no more than 50 lawyers, demonstrate that when it comes to high-stakes cases it's all about skill, not size.
The full Federal Circuit will revisit the vexing question of what is patent-eligible subject matter on February 8. Several cases confront whether broadcasters' copyrights give them control over how the shows are distributed. Plus, the IP challenges of 3D printers, a new act expands design-patent rights globally, David Kappos' departure from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and the Twitter stars of the IP world.
At The National Law Journal's first-ever Regulatory Summit, Washington insiders made it clear: If the House and Senate are unable to overcome partisan gridlock, the president will almost certainly use executive orders and rulemaking at federal agencies to advance his second-term agenda.
2013 Pro Bono Hot List
In this year's edition of our annual survey of billing rates nationwide, we look at the continuing tug-of-war between law firms and their corporate clients over hourly billing rates, and how the slow economic recovery plays a role. Plus, a nationwide sampling of law firm billing rights, and billing rates by associate class.
In this special report, we examine the potential impact of new energy law legislation for law firms, as well as legal issues related to safeguarding the pipeline infrastructure, and applying new corporate compliance regulations to the energy industry.
As the presidential election looms, speculation continues to mount over what might happen should the White House change hands. In this special look at the 2012 contest, The National Law Journal considers the possibilities of retiring Supreme Court justices, shifting priorities at the Department of Justice, and the fate of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
The Internet spotlight can create a backlash against overaggressive trademark owners, even if they have legitimate claims. In this special report, we examine this trend as well as nontraditional trademarks, injunctions in trademark cases after eBay, plus ten hot issues in trademark law and how to handle them.
For this year's survey of the law firms who represent America's largest corporations, we've chosen to highlight one example of the longer-term relationships between in-house counsel and the law firms that represent them.
Research suggests that by the 3L year, 40 percent of law students show signs of depression. Fortunately, educators are responding with programs intended to promote student 'wellness.' In our latest report, we look at the trend and also preview three newly opened law schools, and prominent attorneys offer budding law students the benefit of their experience.
The lower 48 states just completed the hottest month on record, following the warmest 12-month period on record. The Midwest's farm economy has been left staggering. In our latest regional report card, we examine the implications for the region's legal profession and took a side trip to Wisconsin to review the profession's role in the political fun and games in that state.
Law firms, particularly midsize and smaller players, continued to face a challenging revenue picture during the last year, our latest survey of firm finances shows. But they appear to have done a better job of managing expenses to keep profitability and partner compensation high.
Are big firms committed to promoting women into the equity partnership? Our study of the largest U.S. firms shows that women represent just 15 percent of equity partners. At just five firms surveyed, women make up more than 25 percent of equity partners.
In this fifth annual special section, we honor Washington lawyers in two categories: Champions, those who have upheld the profession's core values through public service, pro bono efforts and advocacy for civil liberties, and Visionaries, attorneys whose business or legal acumen has expanded their firms, improved government or advanced the law.
The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the centerpiece of the nation's new health care law the individual mandate to buy insurance as a constitutional exercise of Congress' taxing authority. Led by veteran reporters Tony Mauro and Marcia Coyle, NLJ wraps up its coverage of the week's historic events with analysis of what the landmark decision will mean not only for the Court but for health care practitioners as well. Plus, a collection of memorable moments from the term and commentaries from top lawyers on both sides of the health care debate.
We asked our readers to nominate firms with at least one significant appellate win between May 2011 and May 2012 and that had an impressive track record overall. We supplemented the results with our own research to arrive at the list of 16 firms you'll find here.
The pressure for change at the nation's law schools can no longer be denied. Law firms, the American Bar Association and not least the students themselves are demanding that legal education be made more relevant to real-world practice. Law schools are stepping up to the challenge in various ways — including reducing enrollment.
Fewer businesses filed for bankruptcy protection during 2011 than they did the year before, reflecting a shift toward out-of-court restructurings using high-yield debt financing — and bearing repercussions for the legal profession.
THE GO-TO SCHOOLS
Our annual report on the 50 law schools that NLJ 250 law firms relied upon the most to fill their first-year associate classes during 2011. Plus, the law schools that saw the most alumni promoted to partner at NLJ 250 firms in 2011.
Our first Litigation Boutiques Hot List features 10 small firms that take second place to no one in courtroom skill. These are the firms important clients turn to for state-of-the-art advocacy in bet-the-company cases.
A discovery order in October against KPMG LLP hit the defense bar like a tire iron — the accountancy firm said the expense might run to $100 million dollars. To critics, the order was emblematic of out-of-control electronic discovery costs that litigants are using to bludgeon the opposition into settling.
The America Invents Act shifts the U.S. from a system where a patent is awarded to the first person who comes up with an invention to one where it's awarded to the first person who files a patent application.
It's an ugly situation — pro bono work by large law firms is on a steep decline. This year's Pro Bono Hot List highlights 10 firms that haven't forgotten their professional obligations even — especially — during hard times. Often, at considerable expense or risk to themselves.
It appears that modest annual billing rate increases are here to stay. For the third year in a row, law firms showed restraint with hourly rate increases, inching up at a rate only slightly higher than inflation in many cases.
The headcount among Washington firms continued to decline, but not as sharply as it did last year — the biggest recorded drop in 25 years. According to the Legal Times 150, our annual ranking of the Washington area's largest law offices, the number of attorneys employed at Washington firms decreased by 343 — a little more than 2.2 percent of the total market of 14,945 attorneys.
Rising tuition. Misleading employment statistics. Inadequate skills training. One law school professor has launched a full-scale assault on the legal education system in response to these mounting issues. Are law schools in crisis?
The lawyers profiled here were all born in the 1970s, a decade when law schools and law firms were just beginning to welcome minorities in significant numbers. The thriving careers of these lawyers — at law firms and in government, academia and public interest — attest to the greater opportunities available to them, as well as to their talents.
These 20 firms are at the cutting edge of plaintiffs' work — and are giving defense players a run for their money.
• Hare Wynn harvests big victory in rice row
• In NYSE case, Labaton created a bull market
• Whatley Drake finds healthy return in insurance fights
MULTIDISTRICT LITIGATION: A SPECIAL REPORT
Less than two years after the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded, more than 500 lawsuits have been filed against BP and other defendants.
• States get in on the DML action
• Chart: 511 individual claims filed in BP litigation
Law schools around the country are launching solo and small firm "incubators" — programs that helps recent graduates establish solo practices while also encouraging free or low-cost legal services to underserved communities.
The Affordable Care Act enshrines a hope — that doctors, hospitals and other providers will team up to improve patient care and reduce costs. But there's also a fear — that doctors, hospitals and other providers will team up to stifle competition and raise prices instead.
From covering the debate over whether the Supreme Court's ruling in Stern v. Marshall will create inefficiency and increase delays to examining why Chapter 11 business filings are lower than many expected, this special report delves into recent trends in bankruptcy litigation.
In this fourth annual special section, we honor Washington lawyers in two categories: Champions, those who have upheld the profession's core values through public service, pro bono efforts and advocacy for civil liberties, and Visionaries, attorneys whose business or legal acumen has expanded their firms, improved government or advanced the law.
Some on The National Law Journal's list of 20 in-house counsel oversee huge operations. Others are joined by just a few attorneys and work mostly on regional issues. One thing each has in common: They've dedicated themselves to running efficient offices and to providing top-quality service to their clients.
Firms with fewer than 50 lawyers can find success as litigators by focusing on a niche practice or adopting shrewd trial tactics in a range of cases. We profile five firms that demonstrate the strength and flexibility of a smaller business model.
From the courts to the halls of Congress, our latest special report delves deep into the latest developments in intellectual property law — including an examination of the controversial joint infringement rulings that have divided the Federal Circuit, a look at a case that could restore copyrights to foreign works and how reform legislation could shake up challenges to new patents.
Law firms with the largest offices on the West Coast were back in the black for the most part during 2010, with revenues edging up slightly or remaining flat. Many managed to boost profits per partner, largely due to their reduced headcounts.
Our annual Appellate Hot List recognizes firms that made exemplary contributions to appellate practice during the past year. We asked our readers to nominate firms with at least one significant appellate victory since January 2010 and that had demonstrated an impressive track record overall.
Until the next rules change, recent case law is the best standard for preservation obligations; state e-discovery rules are all over the map. Other topics covered in this special report include native production, proportionality, "Big Data" and concept searching.
The NLJ profiles 34 lawyers in 10 categories — ADR, financial capital markets, government affairs, health care, in-house lawyers at private companies, law firm leadership, media and entertainment, real estate, trusts and estates, and white-collar crime — whose work has been so consequential that it helped to push the profession or a practice area substantially forward.
LEGAL AID: A SPECIAL REPORT
As Congress considers deep cuts in legal assistance to the poor, The National Law Journal presents an in-depth report examining the impact of legal aid programs on clients and the politics surrounding funding.
LABOR & EMPLOYMENT
LAW SCHOOLS: A SPECIAL REPORT
FOREIGN CORRUPT PRACTICES ACT
More companies are beginning to realize that cooperation and compliance with FCPA regulations could lead to reduced fines and spare them criminal actions. The government, meanwhile, avoids the substantial effort entailed in investigating and bringing cases to trial.