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Litigation is like a car crash: When you’re only a spectator, it’s hard not to look. With that in mind, this month we devoted a special supplement and a large chunk of the magazine to all aspects of litigation � avoiding it when you can, paying for it when you can’t, and winning it when you must. I want to highlight a few of the must-read elements. In the supplement’s cover story, “Breaking the Banks” looks at the legal strategy adopted by WorldCom’s underwriters. Initially, they mounted a strong defense. But as they got closer to trial, they began to cave. The American Lawyer senior reporter Andrew Longstreth reports that the banks that held out the longest ultimately paid the most. (The American Lawyer is a sibling publication of Corporate Counsel .) KPMG took a different tack. In “Mr. Clean,” Corporate Counsel senior reporter Sue Reisinger tells the behind-the-scenes story of the accounting giant’s $456 million settlement with the government. Reisinger’s article looks at why the company wooed a sitting federal judge, Sven Erik Holmes, to head its legal department and how Holmes, working closely with outside counsel, finalized a deferred prosecution agreement with the government. While Holmes was a headline-grabbing hire with enormous clout, we also wanted to look at the in-house lawyers deep in the litigation trenches. For the first time, we compiled a list of the litigation chiefs of the Fortune 250. These lawyers aren’t household names, but maybe they should be. It’s hard to gauge exactly how much, combined, this group spent last year. But the Am Law 200, the country’s highest-grossing law firms, reported revenues of almost $60 billion in 2004. A hefty chunk of that money came from big-ticket litigation. The men and women on our chart wrote those checks. We wanted more perspective, so we turned to a veteran litigation chief, Altria’s William Ohlemeyer. Since 1999, he has signed invoices totaling more than $1.5 billion from outside firms. At the same time, he helped shrink his company’s docket from 510 suits pending in 1999 to 230 suits last year. In “The Billion-Dollar Man,” we asked Ohlemeyer to tell us five things he looks for in a firm. Some of his thoughts are oldies-but-goodies � he wants a nimble, diverse roster of lawyers working for him. But other ideas were more unconventional. Ohlemeyer told contributing writer Krysten Crawford that when a new firm approaches him, he tells the lawyers to let him know when one of their litigators is on trial or arguing an appeal. If he can’t go watch, he’ll send another attorney from his company. How many times has a firm followed up? Never, he says. Maybe they should read on.

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