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Each year since 1988, The National Law Journalhas surveyed law departments of the nation’s largest 250 corporations to track the rise and fall of in-house attorneys and to determine who represents corporate America. While last year’s surveyonly covered service and industrial corporations, this yearwe’ve included financial institutions. Our list is the Fortune250 from April 2002. Despite a wary economy, the numbers of in-house lawyers at the nation’s largest companies held their own. There has been some bloodletting inside the past year — Enron, Kmart and Ford lost nearly half their staffs. But the majority on the Fortune250 list saw an increase in their number of corporate counsel. In some instances, as with Pharmacia and Cisco, the increases were impressive. Others’ gains were more modest but enough to offset the larger layoffs. For example, while retailers Sears and Kmart dropped about 15 lawyers, Target and Federated Department Stores added about that many. Enron and Reliant saw huge cuts, but American Electric Power and Cinergy added lawyers, and the numbers at other energy concerns held steady. In two of the three big mergers, the combined companies lost few corporate counsel. Chevron, with 157 lawyers, merged with 132-lawyer Texaco. ChevronTexaco this year reported 250 in-house lawyers. Conoco, with 90 lawyers, merged with 33-lawyer Phillips Petroleum and the combined company this year reported 120 lawyers — virtually all its combined staff. MOST-MENTIONED Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom of New York was the firm most often mentioned as outside counsel, as it has been every year since this survey’s inception, with Chicago-based Kirkland & Ellis a very close second. The top rankings this year were as close as last year, with no firm leading by an impressive margin. First and second place were decided by just one mention: Skadden with 19 and Kirkland with 18. The remaining list of the most-popular firms contains all the usual suspects, with McGuireWoods of Richmond, Va., this year working its way into the top 10. Hunton & Williams, Covington & Burling of Washington, D.C., and Jenner & Block of Chicago were also new additions among the most mentioned. Chicago-based Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw moved into the top five from seventh place last year. Latham & Watkins, Davis Polk & Wardwell of New York and Baker Botts fell off slightly, but still landed inside the top 20. Of the 20 companies that listed just one firm as outside counsel, 13 of them were loyal to that same firm last year. The other seven, including Kmart and Lear Corp., scaled back from the handful of firms they reported in the past. Traditionally the NLJquestionnaire had asked companies to provide the number of in-house attorneys throughout the company, the names and titles of the top in-house attorneys — as well as any board members who are practicing attorneys — and the names of the law firms it used most often in the previous year. For this year’s survey, the NLJhas adjusted the questions. The question about board members has been dropped, and the question about outside representation has been changed to spotlight litigation. This year we asked each company to tell us the names of its “primary outside firms” for litigation. The firms we listed were provided by the office of the company’s top legal officer. In instances where a company did not disclose its information, we relied on our own research of court records and corporate databases. The law firms are listed in alphabetical order. Each company was also asked to indicate whether the law firms it listed were used predominantly or exclusively for defense or as counsel when the company was acting as a plaintiff. If a law firm is hired predominantly for defense work, the letter (d) appears next to its name on the chart; if it is hired predominantly to sue other companies, the letter (p), for plaintiff, appears; if a firm is hired for both, the letter (b) is used.
Most-mentioned firms in survey
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom 19
Kirkland & Ellis 18
Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue 14
Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw 12
Howrey Simon Arnold & White 11
Sidley Austin Brown & Wood 11
Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld 10
McGuireWoods 9
Hunton & Williams 9
O’Melveny & Myers 9

Related chart: Who Defends Corporate America

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