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BOSTON — Securities class action settlements totaled a record of more than $18 billion last year and Lerach Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins of San Diego topped the list of securities class action plaintiffs firms with $7.3 billion in settlements, according to a Securities Class Action Services study. Securities Class Action Services, a subsidiary of Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. of Rockville, Md., compiles the SCAS 50 list to inform institutional investors about the top law firms in the securities class action field. Institutional Shareholder Services offers research and advice on proxy votes to institutional investors. Six of the 10 largest all-time settlements were finalized last year, said Adam Savett, vice president of Securities Class Action Services. “This trend appears to be driven by more institutional investors participating in the securities litigation process,” Savett said. Institutional investors were lead plaintiffs in each of the six top cases. International institutional investors are also increasingly lead plaintiffs in U.S. class action cases. Although Lerach Coughlin’s average settlement was just $243.6 million in 2006, the $6.6 billion in Enron settlements finalized last year helped push it to the top of the list. Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann of New York took the No. 2 slot on the list with $2.6 billion in settlements and an average settlement of $292.8 million. Rounding out the top five are: Heins Mills & Olson of Minneapolis with one $2.5 billion settlement and New York firms Milberg Weiss & Bershad with $1.6 billion in settlements and an average settlement of $72.9 million and Entwistle & Cappucci with one $1.1 billion settlement.

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