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In-house lawyers prepare for litigation wave

In-house lawyers expect litigation to balloon in 2010, according to survey released Friday on litigation trends.The 2009 Fullbright & Jaworski LLP Litigation Trends Survey found that 42 per…

In-house lawyers expect litigation to balloon in 2010, according to survey released Friday on litigation trends.

The 2009 Fullbright & Jaworski LLP Litigation Trends Survey found that 42 per cent of US in-house lawyers anticipate a rise in disputes facing their companies in the next 12 months. This figure is up from 34 per cent last year.

It appears litigation has run rampant over the last year, with 83 per cent of respondents reporting that new litigation has been commenced against their companies over the last 12 months, up from 79 per cent last year.

In-house lawyers from large companies have the highest expectation of litigation, with 52 per cent anticipating an increase in disputes. The prevailing economic conditions were cited as the main reason for this expectation by 38 per cent of respondents.

In addition, companies are keeping a tighter leash on costs due to the downturn, with more than a third of respondents stating that the economic downturn has resulted in the use of alternative fee arrangements.

The head of Fullbright's global litigation practice, Stephen Dillard, explained that "generally, litigation rises in an economic downturn as regulators tend to step up enforcement, laid-off workers head to court and companies need to file more suits to collect of owed monies."

The survey reflects information collected from 408 corporate lawyers spanning public and private organisations, and a diverse range of industry groups.

- Zoe Lyon

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