The world tends to judge law firms by results. Do they win big cases? Orchestrate world-changing deals? Keep big fish out of jail?

Fair enough: We certainly considered the candidates’ professional skills when compiling this year’s Midsize Hot List. Still, we felt that mere outcomes wouldn’t tell the whole story in a world where keeping the client out of the headlines sometimes matters as much as anything else. And so the 20 firms listed here are good at what they do, but they’re also good at how they do it — in spotting legal trends while they’re still emerging and positioning themselves to take advantage; in pioneering billing arrangements that deliver results at prices clients can actually afford; and in building groups of attorneys who work well together and stick around to serve their clients for the long haul.

Twenty firms have proven that process is as important as results.


If it’s a dirty job, they’ll handle it
The nation’s oldest environmental law practice isn’t afraid to tackle a crisis.

When it comes to marketing, they go way back
This 106-year-old firm was practically there at the birth of the industry. It remains at the leading edge.

Embrace of the new turns out to be good for
The firm plays to its Northern California base by emphasizing renewable energy, IP and the wine industry.

Well prepped for a brave new world
Firm has been getting ready for the country’s adoption of a brand new patent system.

Focus on the energy sector pays off
Clients rely on firm to handle deals, financing, bankruptcy and, on occasion, litigation.

Further reading: Last year’s Midsize Hot List.