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Sidley Austin Brown & Wood made its D.C. 20 debut this year with local revenue of $130 million and a slot in 18th place. The 215-lawyer outpost of the Chicago-based firm has emerged as a powerful revenue engine and accounted for 15 percent of the 1,550-attorney firm’s overall take last year. D.C. managing partner Carter Phillips says the addition of a 33-lawyer international trade group is likely what nudged the office over the threshold of the rankings. Led by Daniel Price, the group comprised 10 partners and 23 associates and counsel from the D.C. office of Atlanta’s Powell, Goldstein, Frazer & Murphy. The group brought with it a book of business worth about $30 million. “Not insubstantial,” Phillips says. Part of Sidley’s allure for laterals may lie in its partner draws. Profits per partner last year were a hefty $815,000, the seventh highest in the region. Now, Phillips says, the office is “getting big enough to qualify in a market that has some significantly sized firms.” Other new faces in the office’s K Street digs include Peter Steenland, who came to the firm from the Justice Department and is a specialist in environmental issues and dispute resolution. And Mark Schneider returned to the firm after two years at the Federal Communications Commission. Keeping the revenue engine humming last year were some major regulatory cases. The firm has been working with the General Electric Co. on its cleanup efforts in the Hudson River. Closer to the capital, Sidley represented the Microsoft Corp. in the Netscape litigation and Comptroller General David Walker’s suit against Vice President Dick Cheney over energy policy documents. About 80 percent of the firm’s work for the AT&T Corp., another major client, is done out of Sidley’s D.C. office. In April 2003, some of that hard work paid off when the the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled that the Federal Communications Commission overstepped federal law with regulations that held long-distance carriers liable for obtaining a customer’s authorization before switching phone services. A case involving Tyson Food Inc. was another 2002 matter that bore fruit earlier this year. In March, a jury acquitted the poultry giant and its managers of charges of conspiring to recruit and hire undocumented foreign workers. The Enron Corp. debacle and its regulatory progeny kept the energy practice robust, and railway clients CSX Transportation and the Norfolk Southern Corp. had a big share of the year’s surface-transportation regulation issues, with the latter also turning to Phillips for help in several cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. The ExxonMobil Corp.’s ongoing battle with TAPS Quality Bank over crude oil shipments in the Trans Alaska Pipeline also pumped significant fees into the coffers of Sidley’s D.C. office last year. But the economic downturn did not leave the firm unscathed. As was the case for many firms, mergers and acquisition work declined. But bankruptcy work picked up, and the challenging economy seemed to give proof to the wisdom of Sidley’s 2001 merger with New York’s Brown & Wood. One of the merger’s advantages, Phillips says, is that Brown & Wood was more of a financing powerhouse than an M&A shop. The financing business is driven more by interest rates than the overall economy. As long as rates stay as attractively low, the outlook is rosy. Looking ahead, the firm’s already busy Food and Drug Administration and health care practice seems likely to get even busier. Sidley is now coordinating representation for the litigation stemming from the recall of Bayer’s cholesterol lowering medication Baycol. And on the environmental front, General Electric’s cleanup challenges on the Hudson River continue, and the Environmental Protection Agency’s rejection of the company’s plans for another of its former industrial sites promises continued work. “My hunch is that will occupy a lot of time,” Phillips says.

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