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This is our fifth biennial Litigation Department of the Year competition. It has become a cliché to note that we’ve never had a tougher time picking finalists and winners from the scores of submissions. Nevertheless, it’s true. The last two years have been a time of unprecedented upheaval for American businesses–and for the lawyers who serve them. To quote a partner from one of our finalist firms, the economic meltdown resulted not just in litigation, but in conflagration. The firms we chose in the overall contest and in the three practice area competitions–product liability, labor and employment and intellectual property–didn’t just survive this trial by fire. They were forged into stronger, faster, smarter litigation departments. As before, we invited every firm in The Am Law 200 to report on litigation activities in a 19-month period, this time January 1, 2008-July 31, 2009. Every submission was read by at least three American Lawyer journalists. We vetted the strongest entries with calls to clients and opposing counsel. Panels of reporters and editors picked finalists in each category and invited those firms to our offices in New York to plead their cases. At the end, we arrived at the results that follow: four winners, 12 runners-up, and 24 honorable mentions. Congratulations to all of them.

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