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1. HOGAN & HARTSON After being dethroned as Washington’s largest-grossing law office in last year’s D.C. 20 survey, Hogan & Hartson has returned to the top spot — but just barely. The firm’s gross revenue in its D.C. and Northern Virginia offices jumped nearly 8 percent in 2005 to $362.5 million, pushing it just ahead of WilmerHale. Helping drive the growth: hourly rate increases of roughly 6 percent. Hogan’s revenue spike was also driven by expansion, as it added nearly two dozen lawyers locally, giving it 473 in the region. Chairman J. Warren Gorrell Jr. says the firm expects growth to continue in 2006 and that it plans to add roughly the same number of attorneys this year. The expansion has lined the pockets of Hogan’s equity partners, as profits on a per-partner basis hit $1 million in the Washington region. And unlike a number of firms with tiered partnerships, Hogan has continued to add equity partners in the District, boosting its total by nearly 5 percent to 161. Hogan’s efforts to transform itself from a D.C.-based regulatory firm into an international corporate law firm continued apace in 2005. The firm’s corporate attorneys represented real estate investment trust CarrAmerica in its $5.6 billion acquisition by the Blackstone Group and GE Commercial Finance in its $3 billion sale of Storage USA Inc. The firm also opened offices in Hong Kong, Switzerland, and Venezuela. But not all of its international growth has proved profitable: Hogan shuttered its Prague office in 2005 and continues to struggle in Eastern Europe. But despite its efforts to internationalize and break into top-tier corporate work traditionally done by New York law firms, Hogan remains heavily dependent on the fortunes of a single city. Though it has two dozen offices scattered across the globe, half the firm’s lawyers work inside the Beltway. Traditional Washington practices remain important to the firm, and fortunately for Hogan, the D.C. market has been strong in recent years. The firm’s lobbying revenue jumped 17 percent to $60.3 million in 2005, allowing it to hold its place as Washington’s third-largest lobbying organization, according to Legal Times‘ Influence 50 report. Though Hogan has seen its D.C.-area revenue rise by 50 percent since 2001, there are signs the firm will have difficulty growing at such a rapid pace. “That gets to be hard to do every year,” Gorrell says. He says it is unlikely the firm will be able to raise rates as much in 2006 as it has in recent years. And Hogan, which held the increase in its expenses to 2.5 percent in 2005, will see the cost side of its ledger grow more rapidly this year after following other firms in raising salaries for associates. — Jason McLure
2. WILMERHALE For WilmerHale, 2005 was a year of evolution. It spent millions altering its accounting systems, computers, and real estate holdings as the D.C. firm once known as Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering struggled to digest its 2004 merger with Boston-based Hale and Dorr. In Washington, the firm’s 426 lawyers were scattered throughout five buildings as the firm awaited the completion of a mammoth new office complex on Pennsylvania Avenue, just blocks from the White House. (The firm is due to move into the three adjoining buildings there this spring.) Though WilmerHale’s Washington partners spent a portion of their potential billable time getting to know new colleagues in Boston and New York, the firm’s D.C.-area revenue rose nearly 5 percent to $360 million. More than a quarter of the firm’s D.C.-area lawyers are in its securities regulation and enforcement group, a top-billing practice area that remains white-hot. “We continue to get five to 10 new matters a week,” says William Perlstein, WilmerHale’s D.C.-based co-managing partner, of the securities group. “You don’t have the blockbuster cases that you had before, but the pace appears to be substantial.” One of the firm’s largest securities and regulatory clients in 2005 was mortgage giant Fannie Mae, which was the subject of accounting probes by the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight and the Securities and Exchange Commission. Though its Fannie Mae representation netted the firm millions in fees, a portion of its legal work was sharply criticized in an outside report written by Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker’s Warren Rudman. In late 2005, shortly before the release of Rudman’s report, former Latham & Watkins partner Beth Wilkinson became Fannie Mae’s general counsel, and Latham replaced WilmerHale as the company’s primary securities counsel. Among WilmerHale’s major litigation clients last year were insurance giant Hartford Financial Services Group and pharmaceutical behemoth Wyeth Corp., whose vaccine unit has faced a wave of product liability suits. WilmerHale’s telecommunications group saw business drop off in 2005 as a host of telecom mergers led to a drop in demand for regulatory lawyers. Those mergers were good news, however, for the firm’s antitrust lawyers, who represented Verizon Communications Inc. in its acquisition of Ashburn, Va.-based MCI. — Jason McLure
3. ARNOLD & PORTER The fen-phen litigation has fueled countless billable hours for attorneys at Arnold & Porter since the firm became Wyeth’s lead counsel almost nine years ago. But as the diet-pill cases start to wind down, the firm is feeling the pinch. For the third straight year, Arnold & Porter’s D.C. revenues have remained relatively flat at $308 million, in large part due to a drop in work from Wyeth. Indeed, the firm’s 2.5 percent revenue growth was less than half the pace of its rate hikes, an indicator that overall business is down. And though the firm has made efforts to give rainmaking partners higher pay, profits per partner have lagged at about $835,000. Yet financial figures don’t explain the full picture of the Washington stalwart’s fiscal health. Arnold & Porter has begun to recognize its challenge and has shed nearly 100 lawyers over the past two years. The trimming has helped boost the firm’s productivity, raising its revenues per lawyer 14 percent. New managing partner Richard Alexander believes this has helped position the firm for continued growth. Wyeth and Philip Morris International continue to generate a significant portion of the firm’s overall business, but Arnold & Porter has also begun diversifying its practice areas. Last year the firm hired 10 new attorneys in its New York office and brought in a six-attorney securities and enforcement group, which has represented a former KPMG audit partner as well as Arthur Andersen in unrelated Securities and Exchange Commission probes. And it has also dipped its fingers in restructuring debt for foreign countries, including two such transactions for Brazil. Despite the firm’s lagging revenues, Arnold & Porter still kept its hands in a few top deals of the year. It served as antitrust counsel to SBC Communications Inc. in its $16 billion acquisition of AT&T Corp. The firm handled regulatory matters for US Airways in its $1.5 billion merger with America West. And it was counsel to Boston Scientific Corp.’s stealth bid for Guidant Corp., first announced in late 2005. — Emma Schwartz
4. COVINGTON & BURLING Covington was once considered the most elite firm inside the Beltway. In 2004 that title looked as if it might be gone for good when Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom pushed Covington into fifth place in the D.C. 20 rankings. Last year, Covington fought back and reaped the reward. The firm posted a 17 percent jump to $259 million, vaulting it back to fourth place, just after Washington heavyweights WilmerHale, Hogan & Hartson, and Arnold & Porter. Financial indicators were fairly strong. Profits per partner shot up 18 percent to $975,000, and revenue per lawyer moved upward by 6.2 percent. Much of the growth, says Mitchell Dolin, a member of the firm’s executive committee, stemmed from new hires and a steady hold on expenses. Covington remains the smallest of the top D.C. firms but continues to bring in a few key laterals. One of the biggest names is George Pappas, an intellectual property attorney the firm wooed away from Venable. Government investigations proved a fruitful business center for the firm. Covington attorneys helped Pfizer Inc. and GlaxoSmithKline wend their way through regulatory probes. The firm also handled some securities work, including defending Freddie Mac in securities class actions stemming from accounting misstatements. It counseled Kerr-McGee Corp. in its fierce proxy fight with billionaire investor Carl Icahn. And attorneys won a $1.1 billion judgment in favor of 11 oil and gas companies over an environmental regulation at the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. Though Covington’s international reach is limited to offices in London and Brussels, foreign companies’ increasing interest in the U.S. market led the firm to one of its most significant matters. It shepherded IBM Corp. in its national security review for the sale of its personal computing division to China-based Lenovo Group Ltd. — Emma Schwartz
5. SKADDEN, ARPS, SLATE, MEAGHER & FLOM The electronic revolution was supposed to cut down on labor and speed up work. At Skadden, the effect has been the opposite. “It sort of never ceases to amaze me how much electronic discovery has required additional manpower,” says Michael Rogan, managing partner of the firm’s Washington office. Indeed, the rising workload for electronic discovery in the firm’s litigation matters sparked the biggest change in New York-based Skadden’s D.C. office: an associate hiring spree that raised the office head count 16 percent. Now 270 lawyers strong in Washington, Skadden defended a number of corporate clients under investigation, most of which were a continuation from previous years. Among the top clients: KPMG, as part of the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York’s tax shelter investigation; Fannie Mae, in connection with the Department of Justice’s inquiry into the mortgage lender’s accounting practices; and HealthSouth Corp., after a Securities and Exchange Commission probe into a $2.5 billion accounting misstatement. Though litigation work was up, the office’s revenue growth hasn’t quite kept pace. Covington & Burling inched Skadden out of fourth place. Skadden’s revenues increased 8 percent to $243 million, a slightly smaller increase than in 2004. Productivity also took a plunge. The new attorneys pushed the office’s revenue per lawyer down 7 percent to $900,000. And communications, environmental, and bank regulatory work were slow. Still, the firm managed to keep its slot as the highest-grossing out-of-town office in Washington. Partners, for their part, made out the best in Washington, with $1.9 million in profits per partner. Other practice groups brought in high-profile matters, such as Robert Bennett’s representation of New York Times reporter Judith Miller, who was subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury investigating the alleged leak of CIA officer Valerie Plame’s identity. Energy work also drew new business. Skadden attorneys helped secure financing for a $650 million undersea transmission cable between New Jersey and Long Island. Antitrust remained robust, as well. The firm was regulatory counsel to Exelon Corp. in its merger with Public Service Enterprise Group Inc. And it represented Duke Energy Corp. in its approximately $9.1 billion acquisition of Cinergy Corp. And the rise in corporate transactions fed Skadden’s tax practice, whose work included Yahoo! Inc.’s investment in, China’s largest e-commerce company, and Quicksilver Inc.’s acquisition of Skis Rossignol, a French ski-equipment maker. — Emma Schwartz
6. DICKSTEIN SHAPIRO MORIN & OSHINSKY Dickstein rocketed up the revenue charts to the No. 6 slot in the Legal Times D.C. 20 survey, posting the largest revenue increase in 2005, 27 percent. The firm reported $201 million in gross revenue. The move continues a topsy-turvy pattern that has seen Dickstein move up and down the chart in recent years. Firmwide managing partner Michael Nannes attributed the growth to two factors: increases in regular revenue and collections on two large contingent-fee cases. Dickstein represented Stan Lee, the co-creator of Spider-Man, in a suit against Marvel Enterprises Inc. in which a federal court awarded Lee 10 percent of profits associated with Lee’s creations. In an effort that spanned several years, the firm’s antitrust practice, led by R. Bruce Holcomb, represented a group of rubber-tire company plaintiffs, the largest of which was Michelin USA, in a price-fixing claim against a group of rubber chemical companies. The case settled out of court in 2005. Holcomb declined to comment on the size of Dickstein’s contingent fee in that matter. The sharp rise comes after the previous year’s reported $158 million in revenue. That figure marked a downturn from 2003, when the firm, buoyed by a $150 million payout from a contingent-fee case against vitamin manufacturers, posted revenues of $249 million. Overall, the firm increased its size by eight lawyers to 244. Profits per partner jumped from $840,000 to more than $1 million, and average compensation per lawyer rose from $770,000 to $890,000. Dickstein’s bottom line was bolstered by its insurance coverage work. Partners David Elkind and Mark Kolman led the team, which garnered $6.2 million in damages for Boston Gas Company in its case against Century Indemnity in the U.S. District Court of the District of Massachusetts. Nannes says he expects 2006 revenue numbers to continue to rise and the firm’s recent up-and-down pattern to be broken. So far, he says, the firm is up 7 percent compared with last year at this time. — Anna Palmer
7. STEPTOE & JOHNSON In 2004, Steptoe was the big mover among the D.C. 20. In 2005, the firm’s forward momentum continued. Despite a slight decrease in head count and the D.C. office undergoing major renovations, Steptoe was able to post strong numbers under the leadership of managing partner Roger Warin, although a repeat of its ’04 gains — when the firm boasted an 18 percent increase — didn’t happen. For 2005, revenues broke $200 million, a 10 percent improvement, while profits per partner soared, coming in at $921,000, a 12 percent gain. Philip Malet, the firm’s vice chair, says the gains came through consistent output from major practice areas. “We had a very good year. There wasn’t a large contingency case that swung the balance,” Malet says. “In fact, we were able to prepay many of our expenses.” He says that Steptoe’s strength was its white-collar practice, led by Reid Weingarten, who represented former WorldCom CEO Bernard Ebbers, and the international trade and intellectual property groups. Among prominent clients, partners Steven Davidson and Howard Stahl represented Motorola Inc. in a fraud case against Turkish telecommunications company Telsim, which resulted in a judgment of more than $2 billion for their client in 2005. Major cases also included the representation of the Canadian Wheat Board and the British Columbia Lumber Trade Council, which scored a series of victories before the U.S. International Trade Commission and a North American Free Trade Agreement panel; handling asbestos litigation for the Metropolitan Life Insurance Co.; and counseling CACI International Inc., the private contractor involved in the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal. The firm, Malet says, was also successful at courting the lawyers it chased. “We focused on a few strategic additions in 2005,” says Malet. “We weren’t looking for volume; we wanted to add specific people who could help a targeted area.” Among those additions were Roger Nober (transportation), Roger Parkhurst (intellectual property), Paul Mickey (employment and labor), and Lucinda Low (international trade). The focus next year, Malet says, will remain on adding lawyers. “We have adopted a plan for significant growth, primarily outside of Washington,” he says. “We want to build our national litigation department to our strengths: international trade and corporate counseling.” — Nathan Carlile
8. PILLSBURY WINTHROP SHAW PITTMAN Last year marked Pillsbury’s first year as a merged entity — and the firm seems to be treading water. The good news: The firm dropped more than 20 lawyers in 2005, yet local revenues jumped 14 percent to $196 million. The bad: Profits per partner dipped by $5,000 to $765,000. The losses weren’t a surprise. D.C.-based Shaw Pittman saw a series of defections, including a 20-lawyer group that jumped to Hunton & Williams, leading up to its April 2005 merger with Pillsbury. More recently, the firm lost its six-partner, 13-person group of banking regulatory attorneys in January to Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw. Despite the losses, Pillsbury maintains a 304-lawyer Washington operation, with 123 equity partners and 65 nonequity partners. Both Shaw Pittman and Pillsbury Winthrop had gone through a major de-equitization process in preparation for the merger. But D.C. managing partner Maureen Dwyer says that there was no major move to de-equitize any partners last year. The de-equitizations provided an initial boost to Pillsbury’s profits per equity partner in 2004, but growth stalled last year. Dwyer says the firm had to absorb merger costs in 2005 and is looking for better numbers this year. “Last year for us was a very productive and successful transition year,” she says. “I was pleased with the firm’s performance, considering many one-time costs and expenses.” The firm’s global-sourcing practice helped cushion the bottom line in the transition year. Partner Trevor Nagel led Pillsbury’s legal team advising Netherlands-based food retailer Ahold on implementing a two-tiered sourcing strategy that would divide global and regional service and technical responsibilities for the company. The firm’s energy and real estate practices are also strong right now, says Dwyer. The firm has long had a foothold in nuclear energy, and that work has increased as more attention has been given to building nuclear power plants. The firm’s real estate practice also saw action, with Pillsbury representing The Mark Winkler Co. and its affiliates in the sale of $2.3 billion worth of property in the D.C. metro area. A team of 25 lawyers, headed by John Engel, William Horton, and Marjorie Fisher, completed the deal. Pillsbury’s management remains in flux, with firmwide managing partner Mary Cranston stepping down earlier this year. Dwyer says the management committee is meeting to name her successor before the firm’s annual retreat later this month. “This is really the year we expect the firm to take off and reap the benefits of the merger,” says Dwyer. — Anna Palmer
9. LATHAM & WATKINS Latham moved up the revenue ladder two rungs this year, reporting double-digit growth for the second year in a row. The firm reported a 12 percent revenue increase overall, coming in at $195 million. “We had an outstanding year. Our office experienced dramatic growth again in 2005,” says Eric Bernthal, the firm’s managing partner in Washington. “We’ve had very strong performances in all practices.” The California-based firm, which has 221 lawyers in Washington, focused heavily on recruiting last year, adding an additional 26 lawyers here. Of those additions, most notable were Margaret Zwisler and three other antitrust partners who defected from Howrey last June. The firm also brought on tax attorney Nicholas DeNovio, former chief counsel to the Internal Revenue Service. In part, the firm’s revenues were driven by prominent litigation, including obtaining a reversal at the U.S. Supreme Court for Arthur Andersen on its criminal conviction stemming from the Enron scandal. And tobacco money continued to pad Latham’s bottom line. The firm took on Philip Morris USA’s defense in a smokers lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court. Latham also handled a trademark case in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit for General Cigar, winning a reversal of the trial court decision. The appeals court held that General Cigar is the owner of the Cohiba trademark for cigars in the United States. Once again, the firm’s profits per partner rose dramatically, up 14 percent to $1.6 million. Latham has maintained a two-tiered partnership system with 78 equity partners and 15 nonequity partners in D.C. The firm expects to continue its upward trajectory in 2006. Peter Winik, Latham’s deputy managing partner in Washington and chair of its D.C. litigation department, points to increased antitrust and Securities and Exchange Commission work in the first quarter of the year, as well as growth in the firm’s communications, project finance, and corporate practice groups. “It’s firing on all cylinders,” he says. — Anna Palmer
10. FINNEGAN, HENDERSON, FARABOW, GARRETT & DUNNER Leaders at Finnegan, Henderson say there’s no discernible difference between the firm’s financial performance in 2004 and 2005. But looking strictly at the numbers, 2005 was the year Finnegan, Henderson fell from the stratosphere. After an eye-popping showing in the D.C. 20 survey in 2004 (it ranked seventh locally), propelled by 17 percent growth in gross revenue, the firm is back on terra firma. Finnegan, Henderson’s gross revenue rose a modest 5 percent in 2005 to $194 million. Christopher Foley, the firm’s managing partner, says the sky-high growth one year followed by much more measured growth the next was a result of some large fees not being paid until early 2006. “In terms of dollars and cents there isn’t a difference. It really comes down to a timing thing,” Foley says. “Some of the cases, we did not receive a return on in 2005 until early 2006. From our perspective there’s no meaningful difference.” Foley adds that the firm, which pulls in nearly 60 percent of its business from patent prosecutions and other intellectual property matters, remains extremely profitable. He says there remains a stable of blue-chip clients that provide a steady stream of work. They include Aventis, Caterpillar Inc., Taiwanese digital-technology developer Chi Mei Optoelectronics Corp., Eli Lilly and Co., GlaxoSmithKline, cardiovascular medical-products maker Guidant Corp., and L’Oreal. Finnegan, Henderson also boasts leading attorneys in the IP industry, including partners Charles Lipsey and Michael Jakes and name partner Donald Dunner. Still, the firm lost nine lawyers from the D.C. area, and profits per partner also slipped, declining from $895,000 in 2004 to $871,000 in 2005 (though the firm added seven more equity partners in 2005). Another explanation Foley offered for 2005′s modest increase in gross revenue is Finnegan, Henderson’s investment in long-term contingency cases, something the firm had not done until recently. For the year ahead, Foley says the D.C. office is looking to add lawyers. “We’re very, very busy, and there’s no significant concerns on our end. If anything, we’re hiring as quickly as we can.” Finnegan, Henderson also is seeking to make inroads internationally. “We’re trying to strengthen our presence in the Far East,” says Foley, adding that the firm is looking at expanding its Tokyo office. — Nathan Carlile
11. WILLIAMS & CONNOLLY Williams & Connolly remains something of an anomaly among Washington’s largest law firms. Unlike every other firm in the Legal Times‘ D.C. 20 survey, Williams & Connolly has never opened an office outside of the District. It continues to shun the transactional work that has drawn so many of its peers to New York and other cities. And along with Arnold & Porter, Covington & Burling, and WilmerHale, it numbers among the few large firms in the city that have not split their partnership into equity and nonequity groups. And despite a booming legal market, the firm has shown little interest in acquiring partners from other law firms. Instead, Williams & Connolly has continued to focus on its historic specialty in litigation. The firm’s gross revenue edged up nearly 5 percent to $186.8 million, while profits per partner remained level at $870,000. And the firm continues to draw a client list that is the envy of many of its peers. Partner Terrence O’Donnell advised Vice President Dick Cheney in the special counsel investigation into the leak of CIA agent Valerie Plame’s identity. That representation prevented the firm from repping reporters at its longtime client, the Washington Post Co., in the same investigation. But Williams & Connolly has continued to lawyer for the Post in another leak case, this one involving a suit brought by nuclear scientist Wen Ho Lee over information given to reporters regarding an espionage investigation at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. The firm served as coordinating counsel for Merck & Co. in the tidal wave of product liability suits stemming from pain drug Vioxx. But it remains to be seen how effectively the firm has helped Merck. Through late April, Merck had emerged victorious in three cases and lost three cases, and it still faces the possibility of paying hundreds of millions in damages. But Merck isn’t the only drug company facing a massive dose of product liability suits. Williams & Connolly also serves as national coordinating counsel for Bayer Pharmaceuticals in 14,000 product liability cases filed in connection with Baycol, a heart drug recalled in 2001. In addition, the firm’s lawyers represented the former chief executive officers of both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in connection with probes into the mortgage guarantors’ accounting methods. And partner Robert Barnett helped smooth former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan’s transition to the private sector. Barnett auctioned Greenspan’s book to Penguin Press, advised Greenspan on the formation of his new consulting company, and helped manage his speaking engagements. — Jason McLure
12. HOWREY Watching Howrey’s financial figures feels like riding a seesaw. One year the firm’s up, the next year it’s down. Last year, Howrey was up again, but it’s never clear when, or if, the seesaw will drop once more. The firm’s Washington revenue jumped 7 percent to $183.6 million, moving Howrey up a notch to the 12th slot on the Legal Times D.C. 20 survey. But the big story was in the firm’s profits-per-partner numbers, which shot up 24 percent to $958,000. “Every practice area was up,” says Robert Ruyak, the firm’s managing partner. “We didn’t have a single lag in this past year.” But those numbers belie deeper issues at Howrey: Its productivity has slowed. Revenue per lawyer increased a mere 2 percent in Washington, slightly better than the firmwide figure, which decreased 1.5 percent. The drop came after the firm tried to boost its leverage in Washington by hiring 25 staff attorneys, whose lower pay translates into more revenue for the firm than that of associates whose salaries more closely match their billing rates. The firm also lost a number of top partners, including Marc Schildkraut, Richard Ripley, W. Neil Eggleston, Margaret Zwisler, Edward Schwartz, and Dimitri Nionakis, to local competitors. And inequity among partners at the firm remains stark, a division that continues to rankle lower-level partners. The firm’s nonequity partnership ranks, which make up about 40 percent of the total partnership, earn an average of $330,952. Still, 2005 brought in hot deals and top clients. Intellectual property was the strongest, raking in 43 percent of the firm’s revenue. Among the biggest clients was Qualcomm Inc., which Howrey defended in an IP dispute before the International Trade Commission and in the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of California. Global litigation came in second, making up 32 percent of the firm’s revenue. Howrey lawyers went to bat for Goodrich Corp. against more than 30 insurance companies in an environmental-related insurance dispute. They also defended Biovail in a securities class action currently pending in the Southern District of New York. Antitrust attorneys, though now part of the smallest practice area in the firm, kept busy with a number of second requests from government investigators handling regulatory review for mergers. One of the largest matters was the firm’s work for Whirlpool Corp., as it was regulatory counsel to the company in its $1.7 billion acquisition of Maytag Corp. Howrey also represented GE Healthcare in an arbitration involving a license agreement with Applera Corp., a biotechnology company, for royalties on certain enzymes. — Emma Schwartz
12. AKIN GUMP STRAUSS HAUER & FELD Among Washington’s 20 highest-grossing law offices, Akin Gump was alone in seeing its D.C.-area revenues decline during 2005. With 227 lawyers, the firm’s Washington presence is 15 percent smaller than it was in 1999 at the peak of the technology boom — a sign of the firm’s recent difficulty in keeping pace with its peers. Contributing to the firm’s 6 percent decline in local gross revenues was the mid-2004 departure of a 13-attorney health care group led by Philip Green. “That had an impact on us,” says firm Chairman R. Bruce McLean. Also factors: the shuttering of the firm’s office in Northern Virginia the same year and a 2 percent decline in the number of its attorneys inside the Beltway. And it wasn’t just locally that the firm struggled to grow. Firmwide, Akin Gump’s total revenue from its 15 worldwide offices grew less than 1 percent to $618 million. Though less money was coming in the door, there was more flowing into the hands of the firm’s equity partners. Profits per equity partner in Washington soared in 2005, to $1.2 million from $940,000. Two causes appear to be driving that growth. First, the firm continues to whittle the number of equity partners in Washington, allowing for its pool of profits to be shared among a smaller group of people. The number of equity partners in Akin Gump’s D.C. office dropped 12 percent in 2005 to 64, while the number of nonequity partners jumped from 22 to 29. The firm’s chairman chooses his words carefully when it comes to discussing this phenomenon. “I can’t say nobody was de-equitized,” McLean says. “But I can’t say we had a deal where we de-equitized 20 percent [of our partners].” The second factor boosting profitability was the firm’s sale of a royalty interest in a drug produced by former client Tanox Inc. That interest had been received as payment from the pharmaceutical company for legal services dating to the 1990s. The transaction generated a significant one-time boost in profits in Washington, McLean says. And though closing the Virginia outpost hurt the firm’s gross revenues, McLean says the move helped its profitability. That’s because the firm shed costs on its lease obligations and support staff in Virginia, while the lawyers who stayed with Akin Gump moved to existing space in Washington. Among the largest matters the firm’s Washington lawyers handled in 2005 was an initial public offering for Tim Hortons Inc., a Canadian doughnut-making subsidiary of Wendy’s International Inc. The office’s litigators were fed by work from clients including AT&T Inc. and ExxonMobil Corp., and its intellectual property specialists litigated a number of cases for Samsung Electronics Co. Additionally, Akin Gump’s lobbyists generated $66.9 million in revenue, according to Legal Times‘ Influence 50, making the firm Washington’s second-largest lobbying power. — Jason McLure
14. SIDLEY AUSTIN It’s fair to say that Sidley traded spectacular for solid in 2005, following up a year of high-flying growth with a more reasoned campaign. But its D.C. managing partner, Carter Phillips, isn’t conceding anything. “I’d go further than saying it was a solid year. It was an excellent year,” Phillips says. Overall, business in the firm’s D.C. office was up 9 percent, with the gross coming in at $182 million, a step down from 2004, when the firm swelled 17 percent. The local profits per partner also shot up, coming in at $1.2 million, a rise of almost 20 percent. Not bad. “Our year was driven not by a single area of the firm,” Phillips says. “Everyone contributed.” But if there had to be a driver, it would certainly be the firm’s communications group, which oversaw longtime client AT&T’s merger with SBC Communications Inc. That transaction, led by David Lawson, contributed to the year’s headlines and, more important, to the bottom line. Slightly less conspicuous was the firm’s environmental group, which enjoyed a banner year representing Cinergy Corp., says Phillips, and the international practice, where the firm is lead counsel to European aerospace giant Airbus S.A.S. in a trade dispute with Boeing Corp. before the World Trade Organization. Sidley also represents Bank of America in its case against the bankrupt Italian food group Parmalat. As with many firms, Sidley’s health care practice is receiving new emphasis, given the expanding market. With much of the firm’s work focusing on Hatch-Waxman Act litigation, Phillips says, the firm will attempt to broaden its practice. “What stands out about that area is the number of components that it takes to have a strong health care practice,” says Phillips, who cites FDA, state, and federal regulations, medical devices, and intellectual property as areas of focus in health care the firm would like to deepen. As for the bottom line in 2006, Sidley, with its emphasis on litigation, doesn’t preoccupy itself with setting fiscal goals. “We don’t have a particular target in mind,” says Phillips. “It’s too haphazard to set a specific goal. We have to do good work and hope business comes our way.” — Nathan Carlile
15. MCDERMOTT, WILL & EMERY After an upward charge last year, McDermott, Will & Emery flat-lined in 2005 with only a 2 percent revenue increase and fell to No. 15 overall in the Legal Times‘ D.C. 20 survey. But Timothy Waters, the firm’s co-partner in charge of the D.C. office, doesn’t look at it as a downward spiral. “It was more of a holding-pattern year for us,” says Waters of the firm’s 2005 performance. “We took a step back from recruitment.” D.C. head count for the Chicago-based firm shrunk by six to 198 lawyers, and the firm reported $180 million in overall revenue in 2005. Still, its revenue per lawyer rose from $890,000 to $909,000, with profits per partner undergoing a nominal boost of $5,000, reaching $1.2 million. Despite minimal revenue increases, McDermott saw its profile raised from co-managing partner Bobby Burchfield’s representation of former Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) until Burchfield left the matter last June. He also took on Rep. Don Sherwood (R-Pa.) as a client after a former mistress filed suit; it settled last November. Burchfield defected to McDermott from Covington & Burling in 2004. Less widely watched but more lucrative for the firm was Burchfield and Raymond Jacobsen Jr.’s representation of Amgen Inc. in an antitrust lawsuit brought by Ortho-Biotech, a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary. Last year their team worked primarily on initial discovery matters, and it is anticipating a preliminary injunction hearing in June. The firm also worked as special tax counsel for Chevron Corp.’s controversial $18 billion acquisition of Unocal Corp. McDermott continued to show strong gains in the intellectual property arena in 2005. The firm represented Menard Inc. in a trademark suit brought by Sears Inc. over an advertising phrase in the home-improvement company’s 2001 holiday commercials. McDermott got the case dismissed and was awarded $2.5 million in fees and expenses. In addition, the firm represented American Marine Holdings Inc. in a suit that Maverick Boat Company Inc. brought against it for allegedly copying its boat design and style. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit upheld a federal district court decision in favor of American Marine Holdings. Beyond litigation, Waters says, “the corporate group was much busier at the end of the year, and the health care group picked up.” The firm also represented Merrill Lynch and Lockheed Martin/Lockheed Martin U.K. Holdings Ltd. in separate acquisitions. Despite some inconsistent revenue streams, Waters says the firm is looking to grow, particularly in its public policy, tax, and health practices, and will complete a firmwide practice assessment next month. — Anna Palmer
16. MORGAN, LEWIS & BOCKIUS Morgan Lewis continued to lose ground to its peers in Washington in 2005. As measured by revenue generated in the D.C. area, the firm ranked as the region’s 16th largest, continuing a slide that has seen the firm drop nine places in the Legal Times‘ D.C. 20 survey since 2001. Despite its decline on the charts, the firm reversed a four-year trend of flat revenue growth by posting a nearly 7 percent gain in 2005. Among the reasons for the spike in revenue is an uptick in securities enforcement and litigation work. “There’s a tremendous explosion of work that we and our peers are seeing,” says Steven Stone, the firm’s D.C. managing partner. Helping drive the increase is its work on behalf of clients embroiled in financial scandals. It has defended Lehman Brothers in a $130 million class action alleging the company aided and abetted a ponzi scheme shut down by the Securities and Exchange Commission. It has repped Deutsche Bank in SEC and state investigations into mutual-fund market timing. And it represented Knight Equity Markets in an SEC settlement concerning institutional trading. The firm’s energy and white-collar lawyers also represented FirstEnergy Corp. in grand jury and U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission investigations into the company’s troubled Davis-Besse nuclear plant. In recent years, Morgan Lewis has built one of the larger intellectual property practices of any general-practice firm by poaching top partners from rivals. But in 2005 the firm was hit by defections in its IP group. In November the co-chairs of its life sciences IP group, Michael Tuscan and Erich Veitenheimer III, left for Cooley Godward. That same month, McDermott, Will & Emery nabbed 15 patent litigators from Morgan Lewis’ New York office. And as is the case with a number of other large firms, Morgan Lewis continues to expand the ranks of its nonequity partners in an effort to shrink its equity partnership. In 2005 the firm added a dozen nonequity partners to its ranks, while the number of equity partners in the District declined to 53. That reflects the firm’s strategy of promoting associates to nonequity partner for several years before considering them for further promotion. “More and more for rising partners they become [nonequity] partners before being elevated to equity partners,” Stone says. — Jason McLure
17. CROWELL & MORING Lucky ducks. Crowell & Moring’s internal mascots — maize rubber ducks of the type popularized by Ernie on “Sesame Street” — seem appropriate, with the firm, for a second year, showing significant growth and keeping its place in the D.C. 20. The solid bottom line, explains the firm’s newly minted chairman, Kent Gardiner, comes down to attracting blue-chip clients and keeping their business within the firm by serving their needs with multiple practice areas. “We focus a tremendous amount of energy on integration,” says Gardiner. “We want our clients to be able to come to us with any issue. In that respect, we’re always trying to deepen our practice areas.” But there’s also been a renewed emphasis on lawyers increasing their billable hours and shifting the focus away from large contingency cases in favor of bringing in big-ticket clients who pay the firm more than $1 million a year. The firm calls them “centerpiece clients,” and its most notable include AT&T, Caterpillar Inc., United Technologies Corp., and CFX. “Depth and integration,” says Gardiner. “That’s what’s driving us.” Last year the firm’s local revenue spiked to $166 million from $142 million in 2004. The jump came without an addition of new equity partners, who also enjoyed a significant raise. Profits per partner shot up from $705,000 to $836,000, despite the firm losing its securities practice to Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw. Gardiner says the departure was hurtful but not debilitating. To compensate, every other practice enjoyed double-digit growth. “We’re just focused on doing better,” says Gardiner. “Our goal for 2006 is to beat 2005, just like it was the year before.” — Nathan Carlile
18. PATTON BOGGS In terms of assessing Patton Boggs’ performance in 2005, managing partner Stuart Pape says don’t be deceived. “There was actually growth from 2004 to 2005, but because 2004 has that big number in it, [we're] flat in absolute terms, but we were busier in 2005,” says Pape. That “big number” included a fee of as much as $10 million for representing families of those killed in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. Without such big-ticket items, firm revenues grew at a modest 2.5 percent in 2005. The firm dropped to 18th overall, reporting $159 million in revenue. Overall, Patton Boggs’ profits per partner dipped to $636,000, while revenue per lawyer was up $30,000, from $555,000 to $585,000. The firm also lost senior lawyers in 2005, including Daniel Kracov, former deputy director of the firm’s public policy practice, to Arnold & Porter. More recently, in 2006, Patton Boggs saw six of its lobbyists move to Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman. “What tends to happen is an ebb and a flow from one year or a couple of years to the next,” says Pape of the lateral moves. In 2005, he says, the firm focused on hiring in non-D.C. markets such as New York and New Jersey. Last month, Patton Boggs picked up a 30-lawyer toxic tort defense group in New Jersey from Latham & Watkins and expects to open a New York office shortly. Head count in Patton Boggs’ Washington office dropped by three lawyers to 276 last year. But the firm upped the number of equity partners from 84 to 86. The number of nonequity partners stayed the same at 46. The firm also scored former Sen. John Breaux (D-La.), who came on board in January 2005. Pape says that Breaux has divided his time between business development and strategizing with clients this year. Breaux made headlines last year as a key advocate for the Gulf Coast recovery after Hurricane Katrina. The firm also regularly made the newspapers through its partner Robert Luskin, who represents former White House aide Karl Rove in the CIA leak scandal. In other activity, partner Amy Koch worked as special energy counsel on Boston Generating’s $1.2 billion recapitalization and debt-restructuring deal last October. Patton Boggs has acted as counsel since Boston Generating defaulted on a $2.3 billion loan in 2001. Despite efforts to diversify, the firm continued to rely on its public policy practice to bring in about a third of its total revenue. According to the 2005 Influence 50 revenue survey, Patton Boggs generated $75.7 million in lobbying revenue. In that arena the firm saw an uptick in its health care practice, working on regulatory reimbursement and fraud and abuse issues for clients including Hoffman-La Roche Inc., Pfizer Inc., and Kidney Care Partners. — Anna Palmer
19. WILEY REIN & FIELDING A palpable anxiety could be felt in the halls of Wiley Rein & Fielding last year. Not because the firm was in jeopardy of losing revenue. Exactly the opposite. Partners watched furtively as the firm shepherded one of the most highly publicized cases of the year: the fight between NTP Inc. and Research In Motion Ltd. over the BlackBerry patent. Partners are still waiting for their chunk of the $612 million settlement, expected to pay out more than $200 million to the firm. But the anticipated payoff didn’t keep the partners from staying busy on other matters. Revenues grew at a steady 8 percent to $151 million, keeping Wiley’s name on the D.C. 20 list. “I think the last couple of years have been the best we’ve had in the firm,” says Richard Wiley, the firm’s chairman and a founding partner. No doubt, the good times are still rolling, but firms with Wiley’s Washington-only focus are few and far between these days. Indeed, much of the firm’s revenue increase stemmed from raises in rates, which jumped more than 5 percent for partners and counsel and 7 percent for associates. And despite the overall leap, revenue per lawyer only inched up slightly to $580,000. Yet the firm is planning for the future. It has managed to maintain its profits per partner and increase its nonequity ranks, which jumped from 45 to 58 last year. Communications remains Wiley’s stronghold. The firm served as lead counsel to a coalition of wireless telecommunications carriers in a major case over wireless rates and related business practices in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit. And the firm filed an amicus brief on behalf of communications trade associations in the Supreme Court case MGM Studios v. Grokster. Government contracting also stayed strong. Wiley successfully defended Boeing against challenges to the procurement process for the Air Force’s Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program. And in the intellectual property arena, the firm represented Mylan Laboratories Inc. in a patent dispute with Johnson & Johnson Corp. Still, not every area had a productive year. The firm’s insurance practice, its second largest, lagged. But for now, nobody’s leaving Wiley. Not until they reap the rewards of the BlackBerry case, at least. — Emma Schwartz
20. VENABLE Venable is the only new addition to this year’s chart. Riding the strength of its real estate and environmental practices, the Baltimore-based firm makes its return to the D.C. 20 after a one-year hiatus — and just edges into the 20th slot. “We’d always like to see growth in the neighborhood of 10 percent,” says James Shea, chairman of Venable, whose firm’s local revenues rose steadily by 8 percent to $147.5 million. “Our environmental practice had a robust year on both the criminal and civil side.” But beneath the surface of Venable’s copacetic numbers, 2005 was a bit more volatile. Over recent years the firm has lost a few top names, including this year’s departure of notable intellectual property lawyer George Pappas to Covington & Burling and up-and-coming labor and employment lawyer Connie Bertram to Winston & Strawn. The root cause of some discomfort stems from compensation; more than half of the firm’s lawyers are partners, and nearly two-thirds of those are equity members. In ’05, Venable’s profits per partner came in at $573,000, compared with $551,000 the year before. William Coston, the D.C. office’s managing partner, says of the increase, “We’re pleased with the number, but there’s always room for more growth, and it should go up based on some of the large litigation cases we’ve already had this year.” Along that line, Venable is pushing forward, reeling in more lawyers and foraying into New York — the firm’s first move outside of the D.C. area — where it opened a small shop. The increased head count and some key blue-chip clients are keeping Venable relatively healthy and the numbers up. Those clients include Abbott Labs, Merck, Potomac Electric Power Co., and Fannie Mae. Pointing the way in 2005 were environmental lawyers Judson Starr and Joseph Block, who oversaw an environmental crime investigation of McWane Inc., a nationwide ductile iron pipe manufacturer, and real estate practitioners Philip Horowitz and Robert Gottlieb, who handled the $1 billion sale of 12 Westfield buildings in Northern Virginia. “It’s been a great year for real estate, and the local market had a direct effect on our firm’s numbers,” says Shea. Looking forward, Shea says that Venable expects steady growth, bearing in mind that 10 percent number, while expanding its regulatory practice. “It’s not a boom market, but it’s a solid growth market,” he says. “There’s great prospects for companies doing business with the government, and that is an area of strength for us.” — Nathan Carlile

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