D.C. Top 25: "The Beltway is no longer a barrier against the pitfalls of a down economy," reporter Jeff Jeffrey writes in The National Law Journal's annual survey of the top money-makers among Washington law offices. For the first time in 11 years, the combined gross revenue for Washington's largest firms declined, falling 2.7% to $5.9 billion. Managing partners said intellectual property, litigation and white-collar defense practices remained steady in 2009. Firm leaders said it may be another year or two before the demand for legal services comes back fully.
Losing End: The Federal Trade Commission's suit against Ovation Pharmaceuticals, now Lundbeck Inc., ended in a loss for the agency despite what appeared a slam-dunk case for the government, Jenna Greene reports. Antitrust lawyers are examining the FTC's loss in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota to determine the ramifications for drug companies thinking about mergers or acquisitions.
Kicked Off: The law firm Winston & Strawn is disqualified from representing Pfizer Inc. in a $1 billion lawsuit brought by Brigham Young University. Leigh Jones reports a magistrate judge granted BYU's motion to disqualify the firm from the case in Utah federal district court. Conflict of interest is at the heart of the dispute. Winston & Strawn partner Gene Schaerr represented BYU in other matters at the same time the firm was representing Pfizer.
Attorney Hiring Spree: For-profit higher education companies are turning to lawyers with experience in congressional investigations as the education providers gear up for an inquiry of their operations, David Ingram reports. Critics question whether the companies, which grew during the recession, have exaggerated job prospects. Letters went out last month to 30 for-profit companies asking for information about job placement rates, program costs and student debt.
Secret Dockets: Three advocacy groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, are trying to shed light on qui tam litigation, challenging the mandatory sealing provision that keeps complaints confidential for months, even years. The groups are fighting in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit to revive a suit that seeks to declare the sealing provision as unconstitutional.