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Amid the array of numbers you’ll encounter in this issue of Legal Times, perhaps the most telling is this: Fifteen of the 20 fastest-growing law offices in the D.C. metro area are outposts of AmLaw 200 firms. In other words, even with the economic uncertainty of the past several months, Washington remains a choice destination for the nation’s biggest legal players. This year, our Legal Times 150 survey, which ranks the largest law offices in the region by attorney head count, finds that D.C.’s biggest firms employed 15,454 lawyers, up from 14,900 in 2006. That’s as of April 1. Certainly, the bears have been growling louder since our survey’s cut-off date. But as Nathan Carlile notes in his article on D.C. associate hiring (Page 1), local law offices seem not to be noticing � or at least they’re pretending not to notice. They told us that they were intending to hire far more new associates this year than last. That’s the good news. The bad, as Carlile reports, is that the associate salary increases that have been de rigueur over the past year may be turning into a financial noose for firms. And law firm managers, in a survey conducted by Citi Private Bank, were pessimistic about the economy and the year ahead. (Has anyone else noticed that when associates get big pay increases, the economy almost always seems to shudder? Paging Ben Bernanke.) On the whole, however, the uptick in hiring by Big Law and the continuing overall growth in the number of lawyers in the D.C. metro area are something for local lawyers to cling to as the subprime mortgage mess continues to batter the economy. Gathering the data that makes up the bulk of this special report is a big task � so big that our newsroom asked for outside help this year to help us collect the numbers. Mari Mullane, a former Legal Times staffer who now operates her own consulting business, was instrumental in helping us collect numbers from the 250 D.C.-area offices we surveyed for this report. Supplementing her work were Legal Times reporters, who also contacted firms for head count information. The surveying began in August, and we asked firms to provide us with data on the total number of lawyers in each office in the D.C. metropolitan area. For our purposes, the metro area includes 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 rankings are organized according to the offices’ total number of lawyers as of April 1. We also spell out how many partners and associates are at each firm, and, to get a snapshot of hiring trends, we asked firms how many new associates they intended to add this year. Head counts don’t include contract attorneys, patent agents, or summer associates. Each metro-area office of a firm is counted separately. And the numbers are for full-time equivalents. In cases where attorneys divide their time between local offices, they are counted in the office where they spend the majority of their time. We welcome your feedback on this year’s results and hope you will contact us at [email protected] with your comments. � David Brown

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