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Transaction-oriented Shaw Pittman remained under the cloud of sluggish merger and acquisition action, but still weathered only moderate declines. Shaw Pittman went from sixth to seventh place on the list of top grossing firms in the D.C. area, with net income falling by 8 percent to $52.2 million. Overall revenue inched up by $700,000 to $166 million, and profits per partner nearly flatlined, rising $1,000 to $534,000. In 2001, Shaw Pittman recorded net income growth of $1.5 million and a $22,000 dip in profits per partner. Stephen Huttler, who took over as managing partner in early 2003 after longtime firm head Paul Mickey Jr. stepped down, says Shaw Pittman’s corporate practice, like that at many firms, was hard hit, particularly the portion of the group that represents emerging companies. “There are simply fewer transactions today than in the late 1990s,” Huttler says. “In an environment like the late 1990s, firms like Shaw Pittman will flourish and grow rapidly—and also have to be cautious in more difficult economic times.” But there were bright spots, Huttler says. The firm’s technology and real estate practices fared well, as did its insurance coverage litigation group, which doubled in size to 30 lawyers and handled a landmark case that hinged on whether the destruction of both World Trade Center towers constituted one or two occurrences. Representing the insurer St. Paul Cos., Shaw Pittman lawyers prevailed in convincing the court that, for insurance purposes, the disaster at the towers was the result of only one event. Since the building owner held a policy with a limit of $3.5 billion per occurrence and could have collected $7 billion, the ruling translated into a multibillion-dollar win. The case is on appeal. The firm’s energy group, which handled major litigation involving private fuel storage and spent nuclear fuel, boosted its revenue by more than 30 percent compared with the year before, according to Huttler. He adds that the firm hopes to continue to build its government contracts, financial institutions, and intellectual property practice groups. Shaw Pittman’s debt load was “marginally reduced” through normal cash flow in 2002, Huttler says. The layoffs of 19 associates in January 2002 and 11 associates in August 2002 was undertaken after the firm “found itself considerably overstaffed,” says Huttler, adding that there are no plans for further reductions in 2003. The firm hopes to start recruiting soon for laterals in its corporate, litigation, financial institutions, and government contracts practices, says Huttler, adding that the firm will be “sober in terms of head count while the economy continues to be stubborn.”

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