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The nation’s 350 largest law firms showed the biggest head count growth during 2013 since the nosedive of the recession years, with a respectable 3.9 percent increase. The percentage change in Washington wasn’t quite that robust—2.4 percent—but a gain nonetheless. Yet the upswing was not quite the testament to a rebounding U.S. legal market it might seem. Almost all of the boost came from a flood of foreign lawyers to big U.S.-based firms through international mergers.

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