If ProShare Advisors LLC’s legal department had a motto, it would be "small, but mighty." With just four attorneys working at the company’s Bethesda, Md., headquarters, general counsel Amy Doberman said they have to be efficient and work as "utility players," able to jump in if a colleague is overloaded. ProShares specializes in alternative exchange-traded funds, which means its in-house lawyers not only handle everyday legal work, but also manage highly complex financial transactions. The team focuses on making sure they fully understand the company’s products, Doberman said; she tries to avoid using outside counsel, except in litigation, so that lawyers feel engaged in company operations. "We feel like we’re really participating in the growth of the business," she said.

Last year, ProShares secured two significant legal victories. In New York federal court, the company won dismissal of a prospectus liability class action. Also in New York, the company successfully defended against patent infringement allegations, winning a partial summary judgment that removed more than 98 percent of the assets at issue from the litigation; they agreed to a confidential settlement on the remaining claims that Doberman said was favorable. Ropes & Gray partner James Myers, who worked with ProShares on the patent case, said the legal department’s understanding of the company’s products shone through in how staff attorneys helped to craft a defense strategy. "They were just hands-on involved in teaching us what they do, how they do it, what matters in their business and what doesn’t," Myers said. "It was a true partnership." — Zoe Tillman

ProShare Advisors LLC, a privately held provider of alternative exchange-traded funds
Headquarters: Bethesda, Md.
Industry: Financial services
Number of lawyers in the Washington area: 4
Number of lawyers in the U.S.: 4
Number of lawyers worldwide: 4