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Hiring litigators and bagging clients with big-ticket disputes is about all tech law firm managers have been talking about for the past year. But a look at the number of litigators at Silicon Valley firms shows their wish has yet to come true. A few firms actually have fewer litigators and others have seen only slight increases in their numbers �- and that may be the result of a corresponding decline in the number of corporate transactional attorneys at the firms. Even so, firms like Cooley Godward and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati are still touting their litigation practices and say they plan to dramatically increase the number of litigators in their ranks. “Ideally, we would have fifty-fifty,” said Cooley Godward Chairman Stephen Neal. “We’ve worked gradually to that balance.” In the past year, Cooley has managed to increase its ratio of litigators to transactional attorneys by just 2 percent. Cooley currently has 201 litigators, or 35 percent of the firm’s 573 lawyers. Last year, the firm’s ranks were 33 percent litigation, with 219 litigators out of a total of 661 lawyers. Bay Area firms with a traditional emphasis on litigation have � no surprise � had the most success in recruiting litigators. In fact, Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe is at 65 percent litigation and is scrambling to hire business lawyers — not litigators — especially for its New York and Washington, D.C., offices. Morrison & Foerster also has managed to increase its litigator-business lawyer ratio as well. The firm’s 938 lawyers include 394 litigators, or 42 percent. Last summer, 357 litigators were among the firm’s 955 lawyers, representing 37 percent. A notable exception among the tech firms is Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison. The firm is now more than half litigation after two rounds of layoffs and a buyout plan that targeted transactional attorneys. Of Brobeck’s 553 lawyers, 285 of them are litigators, comprising 52 percent of the firm’s ranks. Last summer, 43 percent, or 374, of the firm’s 876 lawyers were litigators. While the push to swell the ranks of litigators hasn’t panned out for some yet, the emphasis on litigation expertise has healed tensions at some firms between litigators and corporate lawyers. “The best thing about the last several years is the increased connection between the corporate lawyers and the litigators,” said Robert Feldman, head of litigation at Wilson Sonsini. About a quarter of Wilson’s 676 lawyers are litigators and that reflects little change over last year’s breakdown. “Corporate lawyers are totally attuned into bringing litigation into their corporate accounts more so than ever before,” Feldman said. “Everyone is now pulling in the same direction.” Money, of course, helps heal any rifts. And at firms where litigation is big, it’s hard to keep up with the work. Heller credits its litigation group for helping the firm beat its budget estimates for the year so far. Robert Hubbell, Heller’s managing partner, said the firm has traditionally had more litigators than corporate lawyers. The 620-lawyer firm currently has 405 litigators. And business is booming, Hubbell said, especially in securities-related specialties. “Litigation is busy in good times, and it’s busier in bad times,” Hubbell said. However, the firm is trying to grow on the East Coast, especially in New York, where capital markets work is dominant. “We’ve been focused on trying to expand the business practice,” Hubbell said. “We would expect the percentages to be changing.”

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