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New Litigation Trends Survey Announced

This press release announces the results of the annual Fulbright and Jaworski Litigation Trends Survey -- and the release offers extensive coverage of trends. This year was a good year for corporations, with lawsuits down, both where corporations are the defendants or plaintiffs. From the release:

Based on interviews with in-house counsel at 250 major U.S. corporations, 17% of respondents said their companies had escaped the past year without having to defend a single new lawsuit, up sharply from only 11% in 2005-06.  American corporations also appear to have backed off as plaintiffs – 65% of respondents said their company had initiated at least one lawsuit in the past year, down from more than 70% a year ago and an even steeper drop from 2004, when 88% of U.S. companies said they had initiated litigation. That litigation may have softened in recent months is evident on another front in the Fulbright survey: only 22% of in-house counsel said they expect to see the number of legal disputes their companies face increase over the next 12 months; a year ago, 33% said they were anticipating a rise in lawsuits involving their company.  Even the government seems to have lightened up a bit: 48% of companies reported some regulatory proceedings brought against them in the past 12 months, down more than 4% from a year ago. Internal investigations fell even more sharply. By contrast, U.K. companies have experienced significant increases in both categories.

In the four years since Fulbright has conducted this study, this is the first year showing a decline in litigation.

Still, when suits are brought, the stakes are high. Forty percent of U.S. companies overall were hit with at least one $20 million suit or more, while 62 percent of companies with billion-dollar value or more were hit with a $20 million suit. In fact, the press release poses this question:

Is there a contradiction here? Could U.S. business litigation really be shrinking, even as companies face greater magnitude verdicts and settlements, and increase their budgets for disputes? Indeed, nearly 20% report that their annual litigation spending (apart from cost of judgments and settlements) is $5 million or higher.

The report covers dozens of other trends; for more information, view it yourself. And we'll try to cover some of the other important trends identified in the next few days.

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on October 15, 2007 at 05:28 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)


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