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staff reporter The section in your hands today represents our extension of that idea to law firms on the plaintiffs’ side. This is our pick of 25 litigation firms that seem exemplary-the successor to the Litigation 50 that we introduced last year. We were looking for firms that you’d want to call if you had a claim. They had to be plaintiffs’ litigation shops-that is, they had to perform at least half of their work for plaintiffs and devote at least half of their resources to litigation. This left out firms that might have been obvious choices a few years ago, like Boies, Schiller & Flexner, which, these days, devotes much of its time and resources to defense work. Two Houston firms that made the list, Susman Godfrey and Gibbs & Bruns, divide their labors around fifty-fifty. The others seemed comfortably on the plaintiffs’ side. We tried to select firms to cover the major practice areas. We also aimed for geographic diversity, but we didn’t choose a firm based on its location if it wasn’t at least as qualified as the competition. To winnow the list, we consulted Web sites, legal databases, news archives and colleagues around the country. We contacted some firms and requested additional information. On the pages that follow, you’ll find profiles of three law firms and thumbnail sketches of 22. The three treated at greater length were picked because they are established firms located in different parts of the country specializing in different practice areas. These three happen to be from Washington, Dallas and Los Angeles. We could just as easily have focused on three others. In the short profiles of the other 22, we included with the help of the firms brief descriptions of some of their recent successes. These include settlements, and because some firms settle many of their cases with confidentiality agreements, it was sometimes impossible to report their biggest achievements. This sampling of litigation firms reveals, not surprisingly, a huge variety in the U.S. plaintiffs’ bar. The firms come in all shapes and sizes. There’s the five-lawyer firm in Washington specializing in whistleblower litigation. There’s the 40-lawyer Alabama firm branching out from its base in employment litigation. And there’s the (at last count) 179-lawyer bicoastal securities class action powerhouse that, like a giant paramecium, is splitting in two. The thumbnails are by Cleo Cacoulidis, Dee McAree and Andrew Harris. Led by Cacoulidis, McAree, Harris and Gail Diane Cox also did most of the research. Hechler’s e-mail address is dhechler @nlj.com.

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