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When evaluating a group that keeps score for a living, how did we choose a champion? Very carefully. We began by asking litigators which of the Am Law 200 firms (besides their own) was doing the best work, getting the hardest cases, making the most innovative arguments. Who had impressed them across a table or in a co-counsel role? To make a baseball analogy, we weren’t selecting a member of the Hall of Fame, we were looking for the season’s most valuable player. Our survey, which was done by phone and involved lawyers from all regions, yielded 19 nominees. We invited these nominees to report on their litigation records since Jan. 1, 2000. Specifically, we asked for no more than five examples of “significant achievements” in six categories: pretrial, at trial, on appeal, before the U.S. Supreme Court, pro bono and a catchall that included arbitrations and settlements. Three staff members — senior writers Alison Frankel and Susan Beck and editor in chief Aric Press ( [email protected]) — reviewed the papers from the 17 firms that agreed to participate. The submissions unveiled a world of client woes. This was the defense establishment, and there was nary an alleged corporate villain (or White House resident) not represented. We narrowed our group of top litigation departments to five. What set the finalists apart was the depth of their performance in each of the six categories. We visited each finalist, inviting these master litigators to argue their own cases. We then reported on their submissions, talking to clients and opposing counsel, reading briefs and transcripts. And then we voted. The tally was close, but our decision was unanimous. We here present the winner, the four runners-up and the dozen deserving of honorable mention: the litigation department of the year and the firms that, in the judgment of their peers, performed about as well. Congratulations! And let the objecting begin.

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