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.

General Litigation

The Winner: Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher
Finalist: Kirkland & Ellis
Finalist: O’Melveny & Myers
Finalist: Paul Weiss
Finalist: Quinn Emanuel
Finalist: Weil, Gotshal & Manges

Product Liability

The Winner: Reed Smith
Finalist: DLA Piper
Finalist: Shook, Hardy & Bacon

Labor and Employment

The Winner: Paul Hastings
Finalist: Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher
Finalist: Morgan, Lewis & Bockius

Intellectual Property

The Winner: Quinn Emanuel
Finalist: Winston & Strawn
Finalist: Weil, Gotshal & Manges
Finalist: Fish & Richardson


Hear From Our Winners

Litigation Department of the Year: Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher

When other firms and conventional strategies come up short, clients in deep trouble turn to Gibson, Dunn for fresh, aggressive thinking and innovative rescues.

Mass Appeal: Reed Smith

Over the past two years, Reed Smith has expanded its products liability practice group, taken on some big cases representing major companies (especially within the pharmaceutical industry), and racked up several impressive wins. Here, Michael K. Brown, chair of the firm’s life sciences health industry group, talks about his team’s docket this past year.

Class Action Killers: Paul Hastings

Nancy Abell, the head of Paul Hastings’s employment/labor practice, discusses current trends in this area and offers some thoughts about why women are so prevalent in this field.

What Rhymes with Win? Quinn Emanuel

Charlie Verhoeven from Quinn Emanuel helped to coordinate litigation in Nokia’s global IP dispute with Qualcomm. Here, he talks about the patent litigation going global.




Past Winners

The American Lawyer - Litigator of the Year 2008
The American Lawyer - Litigator of the Year 2006
The American Lawyer - Litigator of the Year 2004
The American Lawyer - Litigator of the Year 2002

Click on the cover images above to read about the winners in our previous Litigation Department competitions.