This year we set out to blow up our annual Midsize Hot List — in a good way.

We asked scores of firms of between 50 and 150 attorneys to answer a detailed questionnaire designed to measure what makes a firm great — big cases and deals, but also commitment to diversity and their pro bono responsibilities. We carefully studied their responses to arrive at the list you’ll find in these pages.

We settled on 20 firms that demonstrated excellence in the courtroom or boardroom; that spotted a niche that eluded their competitors or that excelled on many fronts; that developed innovative management, billing or training structures; that changed the face of the country’s cities; that set the standard for midsize practice — firms that clearly stand apart from your everyday law firm.

THE MIDSIZE HOTLIST
Twenty firms in the 50- to 150-lawyer range have proven they can continue to thrive in this troubled economy.

FEATURED FIRMS

Real estate workouts, antitrust practice buoy Miami firm
Bilzin Sumberg’s healthy business in workouts makes it one of the few South Florida firms actively hiring.

Reorganizing, winning big cases, building big things
Since William Coblentz’s death on Sept. 13, the San Francisco firm that bears his name — Coblentz, Patch, Duffy & Bass — has remained a powerful fixture in California real estate.

They’re from Washington, and they’re aggressive
Zuckerman Spaeder is selective about the cases it takes, believes in lean staffing and gets results.
 

NLJ VIDEO : Staff reporter Karen Sloan talks to Andy Sandler, chairman of BuckleySandler.
 

CHART: Inside this year’s Midsize Hot List
A breakdown of how the firms compare in demographics, revenue, leverage and pro bono.

Further reading: Last year’s Midsize Hot List.