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Latham & Watkins maintained its enviable profitability in 2002, thanks in part to the strong demand for litigators that kept many D.C. firms bustling. Latham saw profits climb about 8 percent, to $1.14 million, on average, per equity partner. That’s significantly more cash than the average partner at most of the highest grossing firms in the District took home. Only partners at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and Dickstein Shapiro Morin & Oshinsky netted more. The 178 lawyers in Latham’s D.C. and Reston, Va., offices generated 16 percent more fee income last year than in 2001, and delivered 15 percent of the 1,400-lawyer firm’s $906 million in total revenue. “The litigation practice was very, very busy last year,” says Eric Bernthal, managing partner of the two area offices. He adds that the D.C. office was “among the busiest” in the firm. HCA Inc., formerly the Columbia HCA Healthcare Corp., once again kept Latham’s litigators hustling. The firm is national counsel to the hospital operator in a welter of criminal matters and civil disputes, including shareholder and consumer suits, that arose out of a federal Medicare fraud investigation. Partner Roger Goldman played a lead role in the HCA work, “much of which was resolved in 2002,” Bernthal says. The Ford Motor Co. was another major litigation client, Bernthal says. Partners Mark Newell and David Barrett led a team that handled insurance coverage disputes and defended tort claims. Bernthal notes that the firm did pick up some hefty deal work, “despite the generally anemic corporate-work atmosphere.” Latham’s project finance team, which was busy in 2001, was “down a little” last year, Bernthal says. “But worldwide, there was much less of that going on.” Partners Gary Epstein and James Barker represented the Hughes Electronics Corp. on its proposed combination last year with the EchoStar Communications Corp. Federal regulators stymied that deal, but Latham continues to represent Hughes on its anticipated acquisition by the News Corp. And private equity goliath the Carlyle Group, a marquee client for Latham’s D.C. office, turned to the firm for advice on a $7 billion acquisition of Qwest Dex, the phone directory business of Qwest Communications Inc. “Carlyle was very active and was a wonderful client in 2002,” Bernthal says. Latham lured several laterals last year. Securities litigators Laurie Smilan and Michele Rose joined the firm’s Reston office from Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. Tax litigator Kim Boylan joined Latham in the District from Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw. Venture capital and technology specialist Michael Schlesinger jumped from Venable to Latham’s D.C. office. Latham also wooed William Baker III, the former associate enforcement director at the Securities and Exchange Commission. Baker signed on as a D.C. partner early this year. “Our office stayed, as it always does, at the forefront of the firm’s activity,” Bernthal says.

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