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Dickstein Shapiro Morin & Oshinsky leapt from sixth to third among the highest-grossing firms in Washington. The firm grossed $249 million, and profits per partner skyrocketed again in 2003, thanks to continuing payoff from a contingent fee case. Partnership draws rose to an average of nearly $2 million — $740,000 more than the record-breaking previous year and by far the highest among Washington’s top-grossing firms. But Michael Nannes, who took over as managing partner in early 2004, is measured in celebrating the extraordinary revenue peaks the firm has seen over the last two years. As in 2002, the spike in 2003 revenue was largely due to payoffs from a 1999 antitrust suit filed against two vitamin makers. The firm represented on a contingent basis 30 buyers of bulk vitamins in the suit filed in Arkansas against international vitamin manufacturers and wholesalers on behalf of U.S. companies. The firm says that it won billions for its clients in the cases, but Nannes declines to say just how much the firm took in as a result. He acknowledges that such wins case aren’t common. The payout allowed the firm to retire its debts. And, Nannes adds, many partners did things like pour money into college savings accounts for their kids. Dickstein also put money away to pay for most of its planned 2006 move to 400,000 square feet at International Square, on the 1800 block of I Street, N.W. The firm also represents a large group of plaintiffs on a contingent basis in antitrust litigation related to methionine, an amino acid used primarily as an animal feed additive to enhance growth and production. The methionine plaintiffs sued the principal manufacturers of methionine, including French chemical and pharmaceutical company Rhone-Poulenc AG, now known as Aventis. Dickstein’s clients, including Tyson Foods Inc. and some of the largest poultry and hog producers in the United States, alleged that as the result of an illegal price-fixing cartel operated by the defendants, they were overcharged by hundreds of millions of dollars for their purchases of methionine. Nannes says the money from the vitamins litigation allowed the firm to invest in lateral partners. He laughingly acknowledges that the firm got a flurry of calls last year when lawyers at other firms saw Dickstein’s profits spike dramatically. “When people saw our numbers, they started calling,” Nannes says. “But 2004 will not be like 2002 or 2003. I tell laterals to look at a five-year stretch for the firm.” In 2001, before the rewards of the vitamin contingent fee, the firm’s profits per partner were $650,000. But that doesn’t mean Dickstein isn’t counting on more windfalls; it continues to invest about 10 percent of its resources in contingent fee work, Nannes says. Activity in energy regulatory and compliance also helped to bolster the firm in 2003. Dickstein attorneys represented Charlotte, N.C.-based Duke Energy Corp., Baltimore-based Constellation Energy Group, and Tampa, Fla.-based Teco Energy Inc. on such matters. And a handful of lateral additions gained traction in the firm’s intellectual property practice last year, says Nannes. Among clients who looked to the group for patent litigation, licensing, and asset management advice are Micron Technology Inc., Hitatchi Ltd., and the Boeing Co. Dickstein lawyers also represent Spider Man creator Stan Lee in litigation with Marvel Enterprises Inc. over profits from the Spider Man movies. The case, pending in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, is expected to be argued this summer. The firm’s insurance coverage practice and plaintiffs opt-out litigation practice were also “engines of success” last year for the firm, says Nannes. In its opt-out litigation practice, which handled the vitamins litigation, the firm represents large corporations that choose to be represented individually rather than as a member of a class of plaintiffs.

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