A year ago, when we wrote about Fulbright & Jaworski’s 2008 Litigation Trends report, we noted that the 358 in-house lawyers who responded to the survey reported a drop in new filings in the first half of 2008, but few of them expected the decline to last. As the Great Recession dawned last October, in-house lawyers and their outside firms were still counting on litigation to be a countercyclical hedge, as it had been in previous economic downturns.

As we all now know, things didn’t turn out that way. Clients cut back on litigation spending, curtailing new filings and forcing firms to cut fees. But the year’s disappointing litigation landscape makes the just published 2009 Fulbright Litigation Trends survey all the more important. The 66-page report is a chronicle of the impact of the recession. It’s also a guide to where recovery, at least for litigators, will begin.

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