Each year, we ask in-house counsel at the Fortune 250 to name their go-to firms, specifically their primary IP litigation and patent firms. And each year, we see the same Am Law 100 firms at the top of the list. This year Baker Botts topped the chart with 10 mentions, closely followed by Howrey with eight mentions and Jones Day and Woodcock Washburn, which both had seven (see associated lists). In 2005 Jones Day and Kirkland & Ellis led the pack with 10 mentions; and Baker Botts tied with Alston & Bird with eight.

The consistency of the top firms is telling and, we think, reliable. The actual rankings, however, are a bit more arbitrary, as there is an unquestioned survey effect. Not only do corporations make changes to their hiring rosters, sometimes companies don’t respond to our annual query. Baker Botts landed at the top this year because it has big clients and because those big clients chose to answer the survey. For instance, firm client Marsh & McLennan responded to our survey for the first time in four years. At the same time, Verizon Communications Inc. and Countrywide Financial Corp. added Baker Botts to their lists. (None of these companies responded to requests for comment for this article.) The firm also lost a mention: CenterPoint Energy started using Bracewell & Giuliani for patent work, although it still names Baker Botts as its IP litigation firm. Bracewell isn’t a new hire for CenterPoint, either. Albert Kimball, a partner in the firm’s Houston office, has been doing the company’s patent work since CenterPoint split off from Houston Industries eight years ago.

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