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D.C.’s Covington & Burling is a solid fixture among D.C.’s largest and most profitable law firms. The 84-year-old firm has consistently increased its revenue and profits, and 2002 was no exception. As expected, Covington made a strong showing in Legal Times‘ survey of the top grossing D.C. law offices, posting $208.6 million in gross revenue, an 8 percent increase from 2001. “The firm had a solid growth year, posting gains in both revenue and profitability—all the while continuing our strong pro bono efforts,” says firm spokesman Mitchell Dolin, a partner in the firm’s litigation practice. Covington, however, dropped one position to the No. 4 slot on the survey after an impressive 21 percent increase in gross revenue by home-grown behemoth Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering, which grossed $225.6 million. Covington’s net operating income increased from $69.7 million in 2001 to $74.4 million last year. Profits per partner increased from $690,000 to $709,000. Yet the firm’s revenue per lawyer dropped to $585,000 from $605,000 in 2001. Part of that decrease stems from the 358-lawyer office picking up 40 new attorneys in 2002. Dolin says there was no focus on beefing up a single practice area and that the increase in attorneys was consistent with the firm’s usual hiring pattern. He noted, however, that Covington experienced a significant increase in antitrust work and insurance litigation—the latter tied to a resurgence of asbestos claims. The firm’s life sciences practice also contributed to its profitability, as did continuing federal investigations into corporate governance. Some of Covington’s work included: defending the state of Minnesota in a major multiparty environmental insurance coverage action; representing a special committee of the Adelphia Communication Corp.’s board of directors which launched an internal investigation into the company’s accounting practices; defending PPL, formerly Pennsylvania Power & Light, in five separate private antitrust actions and in state and federal government investigations of electricity markets; and representing several named defendants, including George Washington University and Stanford Hospital & Clinic, in the national antitrust class action filed against medical schools, teaching hospitals, and various medical associations by medical resident physicians. Covington’s home office—which includes a handful of smaller outposts located in the D.C. suburbs—generated 71 percent of the firm’s revenue, which totaled $291.5 million for all five of its offices worldwide.

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