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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Companies are suing, being sued less

Fulbright & Jaworski this week reported a "distinct drop" in the number of lawsuits filed against U.S. companies.

Based on interviews with in-house counsel at 250 major U.S. corporations, 17 percent of respondents said their companies had escaped the past year without having to defend a single new lawsuit — that's up from 11 percent the previous year.

Companies also seem to be suing less: just 65 percent had initiated at least one lawsuit in the past year, down from more than 70 percent a year ago and 88 percent in 2004.

So what kinds of suits are disappearing? Securities cases are down, along with bankruptcy disputes, Fulbright says. But other types of litigation, such as patent cases and product liability suits, are on the rise.

So depending on your practice, this could be good news or bad news. Either way, the majority of in-house counsel still identify labor and employment matters as the most frequent source of lawsuits.

And if you're general counsel, well, less litigation is always good — whether it's against your company or against you personally. The National Law Journal reported earlier this month that a record 10 GCs were charged with or pleaded to civil or criminal fraud in federal courts this year.

More information from the Litigation Trends Survey is available here.

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