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Two Old Firms Struggle With New Paradigm

Posted Sep 11, 2007 6:09 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Two big law firms in the nation’s capital have dropped in Legal Times’ top-20 D.C. rankings, prompting the publication to conclude the firms “seem to be having trouble adjusting to Washington's new paradigm.”

The firms—Arnold & Porter and Covington & Burling—are slipping in the rankings at the same time that competitors are expanding. “Though both remain profitable and, by most accounts, are relatively happy places to work, both have also come face to face with the harsh realities of the modern legal market, where hustling for business and constant growth are seen as the price of continued survival,” Legal Times wrrote.

Arnold & Porter has lost lawyers and seen revenues stall, partly because of a slowdown in mass tort litigation. While Covington & Burling has a high partner retention rate, its lawyer growth has not kept up with competitors, and the firm saw only modest gains in revenues.

"Both have been punched hard in the stomach by the modern competitive law firm," said the managing partner at a competing firm.

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