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October 13, 2010 11:57 AM

Fulbright Report: Litigation on the Rise

Posted by David Bario

If any big-firm litigators out there have been waiting for things to slow down before taking a vacation this year, we suggest you get out of town now--or maybe just give up. Next year's not looking any better. 

That's the word from Fulbright & Jaworski, which released its seventh annual Litigation Trends Survey in the wee hours Wednesday. The 57-page report, available on the firm's Web site, predicts an increase in litigation in the coming year.

Fulbright's 2010 report is based on survey responses from 275 U.S. and 128 U.K. in-house lawyers, the majority of whom were general counsel at companies with revenues north of $100 million in the last fiscal year. Ninety-three percent of U.S. respondents and 97 percent of U.K. respondents expected litigation involving their companies to increase or remain steady in the coming year. Eighty-seven percent of U.S. respondents faced new litigation in the past year, compared with 83 percent in Fulbright's previous survey.

What's keeping corporate counsel up at night these days? After the struggling global economy, respondents cited increased regulatory scrutiny as the main source of their litigation woes and concerns. One in five U.S. respondents and one in four companies with revenue over $1 billion said stricter regulation was a major worry. Forty-three percent of U.S. respondents said they hired outside lawyers to deal with government investigations in the last year; one-third said they expected to grapple with an increased number of regulatory proceedings in the coming year.

"With reform in two major industries--financial services and health care--and the possibility of greater regulation of offshore petroleum production, regulatory concerns are front-and-center in the minds of in-house legal counsel," Fulbright global disputes practice chief Stephen Dillard said in a statement released with the report.

For law firms planning on how to marshal their resources in the coming year, Fulbright's report is required reading. As always, the sound of clients in need means an opportunity to bill them: Twenty-eight percent of the in-house counsel surveyed by Fulbright this year said they expect to increase their litigation budgets this year. Fifty-six percent expected their budgets to remain the same. 

Our colleague Alison Frankel of the Litigation Daily spent part of Tuesday pouring over an embargoed version of Fulbright's survey and picked out some more choice bits. Click here to read her report.

 

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