Sunday, June 29, 2008

More Thoughts on Lawyer Rankings

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

Following up on my post last week on lawyer rankings in antitrust, one issue that I often debate with practitioner friends is the ease of which it is to have an antitrust practice outside of the five largest legal markets in the United States (DC, NY, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Chicago).  It is very difficult to develop a critical mass of local practitioners in other legal markets in highly specialized areas like antitrust, even when the other legal markets are still quite sizable.  This is not to suggest that there are not excellent antitrust practitioners at law firms outside of the largest legal markets.  Some people that come to mind immediately in a not exhaustive list that have national or international practices include Bruce Hoffman of Hunton & Williams in Miami, FL (and a University of Florida law grad!), Kevin O'Connor of Godfrey & Kahn in Madison, WI, Sean Royall in the Dallas, TX office of Gibson Dunn and Steve Harris of Jones Day's Atlanta office (Steve probably has the best US based Asian antitrust practice).

What does it take to have critical mass?  Let us examine the Chamber USA rankings to see the states that Chambers ranks for antitrust practices.  These states (and largest legal markets) are:

  • California (Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco)
  • District of Columbia (Washington)
  • Florida (Miami)
  • Georgia (Atlanta)
  • Illinois (Chicago)
  • Massachusetts (Boston)
  • New York (NY)
  • North Carolina (Charlotte, Raleigh-Durham)
  • Pennsylvania (Philadelphia)
  • Texas (Dallas, Houston)

Interestingly, a number of states with larger cities lack critical mass for antitrust rankings in Chambers (Colorado, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Washington, Wisconsin).  What gives states critical mass to have an antitrust practice outside of the big 5 US legal markets?  Is it the number of Fortune 500 companies in the state?  Is it the lack of a DC office that siphons the antitrust work?  Is it that practitioners in these other states have a combination of cost advantages and highly specialized antitrust practices?  Is there enough state specific litigation brought by state AGs?

Any thoughts from blog readers?

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