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Wiley Rein & Fielding is back—on the list of the 20 top grossing firms in the D.C. area, that is. Wiley Rein slid off the list last year, when it logged revenue of only $112 million. Considering the dismal state of the telecommunications industry, the firm made a respectable showing in 2002. Gross revenue rose a slight $6 million, although profits per partner were down 6 percent—attributable in part to an increase in the firm’s equity ranks from 60 to 67. Modest debt level and conservative fiscal management have kept the firm, best known for its telecom work, in “excellent shape,” says chairman Richard Wiley. “In a bad economy, we’ve done reasonably well.” Telecom remains the firm’s busiest practice area. With all four Baby Bells as clients, plus media companies such as CBS Broadcasting Inc., the Gannett Co., and Clear Channel Communications Inc., Wiley says the firm hasn’t been hurt much by the sector’s slowdown. “Litigation and regulatory work seem to keep rolling on,” he says. Still, the firm took steps in 2002 to bolster practice areas that thrive in hard times, acquiring five-lawyer bankruptcy boutique Gold, Morrison & Laughlin of McLean, Va. In all, the firm added 18 lateral partners or of counsel in the last year, helping to offset losses to the government—Daniel Troy, the general counsel of the Food and Drug Administration; Alex Azar II, the general counsel of the Department of Health and Human Services; Nancy Victory, the head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration; Howard Radzely, the acting solicitor of the Department of Labor; and Federal Communications Commissioner Kevin Martin are all alums of the Republican-leaning firm. “It’s been a bit of a brain drain,” says Wiley. The firm remains in growth mode, though using a slow, one-lateral-at-a-time approach, and it has no interest in being acquired in a merger by a larger firm, Wiley says. This year’s summer class is one of the biggest ever, with 25 associates. Nor are there any plans on the horizon to expand beyond the D.C. metropolitan area, although the firm has increased its presence in Northern Virginia. Wiley Rein now has 12 lawyers in McLean, with room for another 18. “We went out there because we had existing clients. We weren’t chasing the dot-com bubble,” Wiley says. In 2002, the biggest practice areas (in order) were telecom, insurance, government contracts, and international trade. IP litigation has also been strong. In November, a jury in the Eastern District of Virginia awarded firm client NTP Inc. $23.1 million in a patent infringement lawsuit against Research in Motion, the maker of the BlackBerry handheld electronic device. The firm’s food and drug group won a case challenging the FDA’s “pediatric testing rule,” and lawyers in the firm’s franchise group successfully defended H&R Block in two cases involving franchisee territory rights and products sold via the Internet. Wiley Rein lawyers also represented the Nucor Corp., the nation’s largest steel producer, and a coalition of U.S. steel mini-mills, in the massive International Trade Commission proceeding establishing tariffs on imported steel.

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