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Litigation. Bankruptcy. White collar crime and corporate scandals. Over and over again, firms that made the D.C. 20, Legal Times‘ annual ranking of the top revenue-producing offices in the D.C. area, cited these three practice areas as being instrumental in their ability not only to survive in an economic downturn, but to thrive. Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, for example, profited handsomely because of its work in litigating intellectual property disputes. Dickstein, Shapiro, Morin & Oshinsky made many of its millions from insurance litigation. Steptoe & Johnson and Williams & Connolly soared thanks to their white collar crime work. And the D.C. offices of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom; Latham & Watkins; and Jones Day saw revenues balloon due to their substantial litigation practices. Skadden also benefited from major bankruptcy work, as did Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, which beefed up that practice several years ago in anticipation of the burst of the economic bubble. Two D.C. offices — Piper Rudnick and Sidley Austin Brown & Wood — appear for the first time on the Legal Times top 20 list. Not surprisingly, both offices relied heavily on — you guessed it — litigation, as well as well-timed acquisitions. In 2002, Piper Rudnick absorbed Verner, Liipfert, Bernhard, McPherson and Hand. And the D.C. office of Sidley Austin snatched a cadre of international trade lawyers with a $30 million book of business from the D.C. office of Powell, Goldstein, Frazer & Murphy. Not every firm, however, was able to take advantage of the boom in counter-cyclical work. Shaw Pittman’s D.C. revenue barely inched up, from $165.3 million in 2001 to $166 million last year. The D.C. office of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius actually saw revenue slide, from $164.4 million in 2001 to $163 million in 2002. And three D.C. offices — Arent Fox Kintner Plotkin & Kahn; Crowell & Moring; and Swidler Berlin Shereff Friedman — were bumped off the chart altogether. While 2002 proved to be a less than stellar year for these offices, there is reason for hope. After all, Wiley Rein & Fielding fell off the chart in the 2001 survey, yet bounced back to claim the No. 20 spot in the current list, which reports 2002 revenue. As we have for the past three years, we calculated the gross revenue generated only by a firm’s metro D.C. offices. If a firm had more than one office in the D.C. area, we combined the revenues of those offices to reflect total revenue for this region. We defined the D.C. metro area as the District of Columbia, Northern Virginia, and Prince George’s and Montgomery counties in Maryland. Head counts of total lawyers and partners are as of Aug. 31, 2002, and include only full-time equivalent positions. The data in this section are informed by reporting. We started by asking the firms for financials. In all cases, we labored to procure and verify the numbers. Once again, we chose to provide snapshots of the successes or failures of each firm, figuring that this approach would be more informative than making sweeping pronouncements about business trends. Yet it became obvious in putting together the D.C. 20 that we’d be on solid ground declaring that in 2002 litigation, bankruptcy, and white collar crime and corporate scandals were the practices that fueled D.C.’s most successful offices. Who knew? Apparently, savvy managing partners did. — The Editors

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