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Piper Rudnick marks its inaugural appearance on the D.C. 20 with a striking leap in revenue, largely the result of the firm’s merger with D.C.’s Verner, Liipfert, Bernhard, McPherson and Hand in October 2002. The union helped to bump Piper to 14th place on this year’s list of the top grossing offices in the Washington area. “As a firm, we’ve emphasized the opportunities we have in Washington and, as a result of that, we’ve had some very gratifying growth,” says the firm’s chief operating officer and D.C. co-managing partner, Jeffrey Liss. “Being in the top 20 reflects a commitment on our part.” With $141.4 million in gross revenue and 248 lawyers, up from overall revenue of $76.5 million and 165 lawyers, Piper has established itself as a major D.C. presence. Profits per partner were $718,169 and revenue per lawyer was $569,485. The government of Ethiopia turned to Piper D.C. lawyers, led by international commerce and litigation group chair Donovan Picard, for representation before two international tribunals in The Hague in disputes over territory and war-related loss, damage, and injury arising from its war with Eritrea, which ended in 2000. In the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California in Sacramento, D.C. partner Steven Kelber led the firm in its successful defense of Genentech Inc. against a $1 billion patent infringement case involving the breast cancer drug Herceptin filed by the Chiron Corp. The firm’s real estate lawyers, including D.C. partner Jeff Keitelman, handled VeriSign Inc.’s lease and subsequent purchase of its headquarters in Herndon, Va. Additionally, D.C. partners Harry McPherson and Mark Tauber advised the IDT Corp., an international telecommunications carrier, in its attempt to purchase the assets of Global Crossing out of bankruptcy. And D.C. partner Theodore Segal represented McCormick & Co. in its $180 million acquisition of the stock of Zatarain’s Food Brands. Thomas O’Neil, a D.C. partner, headed the firm’s defense of WorldCom in Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission enforcement investigations arising out of the accounting fraud charges against the telecom giant. (O’Neil is no longer working on the matter.) Liss says Verner, Liipfert’s 75 lawyers have assimilated smoothly into Piper Rudnick, which itself is the three-year-old amalgamation of Baltimore’s Piper & Marbury and Chicago’s Rudnick & Wolfe. “They [Verner lawyers] were very eager to work together,” Liss says. “They had contacts at the top levels of many corporations, but only had a limited number of things to sell. Now we’re cross-selling like you wouldn’t believe.” Berl Bernhard, a longtime Verner, Liipfert partner who is now at Piper, describes the merger as “good spirited” and more successful than he anticipated. “We got over the ‘we and they’ bit very early on,” says Bernhard. “I think we’re all talking about ‘we’ now.” The merger has allowed Verner lawyers to generate business in areas denied to them before they became part of Piper, says Bernhard, including corporate and litigation. “We had the capability, but were lacking in the depth that Piper had,” Bernhard says. “Fortunately, we also filled a gap in their operation, so there’s no sense of internal competitiveness.”

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