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To hear D.C.-area managing partners tell it, business is great. Yet in our annual survey of the region’s largest law offices, few of those 150 offices saw a spike in lawyer ranks. At the same time, more and more firms are turning to temporary contract attorneys to fill short-term demand for projects involving large amounts of document discovery and other labor-intensive tasks. We tackle both phenomena in this special report. Reporter Christine Hines explores the anemic rate of growth among most area law offices over the 12-month period surveyed. One exception: the D.C. office of Steptoe & Johnson, which grew by more than 10 percent. You can read about Steptoe’s success in expanding its ranks in this related article. Assistant editor Bethany Broida documents area law firms’ increasing reliance on contract attorneys. Is there a connection between the firms’ slow or nonexistent growth in the permanent lawyer ranks and their burgeoning use of temporary lawyers? A causal link is difficult to establish, but we thought the developments interesting enough to explore. From its inception in 1978, Legal Times has conducted regular surveys of attorney head counts. This year, the staff surveyed approximately 250 law offices in the D.C. metropolitan area to compile the information for this annual report. We define the “D.C. metropolitan area” as the District of Columbia; Montgomery and Prince George’s counties in Maryland; and Arlington and Fairfax counties and the cities of Alexandria and Falls Church in Virginia. The survey forms were sent to firms in the spring and followed up by Broida, who spent months making hundreds of phone calls to gather and fact-check the information. We’ve instituted one big change in this year’s survey. Last year, we ranked the largest 100 law offices in the main chart and, in a separate chart, ranked the next 50 biggest offices. This year, we dispensed with that and combined the largest 150 offices in one main chart. The rankings are organized according to an office’s total number of lawyers as of April 1, 2004, though we also spell out the breakdown between partners and associates. And to capture anticipated growth, we asked firms how many new associates they expect to add in 2004. The research gets presented in a main chart of the 150 largest law offices, as well as on a poster included with this issue. The survey identifies the number of lawyers in individual offices � not firmwide or within the market as a whole. If a firm has offices in the District as well as in Northern Virginia, and those offices individually rank among the biggest 150 in the area, you’ll see both offices represented on the chart. The 150 largest offices ranged from the 464-lawyer D.C. office of Hogan & Hartson to five separate firms that tied for No. 149 with 31 lawyers. Other charts in this issue rank the largest firms in Northern Virginia and in suburban Maryland, as well as firms born and raised in the District and those founded elsewhere. As we did last year, we discarded the association of a firm with a “home office.” We have found that the term has lost meaning in many firms at which power, attorneys, and revenue are scattered among many offices. Instead, we listed the city in which each firm was founded � believing that this information is an interesting element of any firm’s culture. � The Editors

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