News & Politics

It’s a Good Time to Be a Law-Firm Partner

The good times just roll on at Washington’s Dickstein Shapiro, where ace patent attorney Gary Hoffman has nailed down a $501-million win in a case involving heart-stent coatings.

Dickstein has been a trendsetter among national corporate law firms in taking cases on partial contingency rather than a strict hourly rate. As a result, Dickstein’s 150 partners will share in a huge windfall that could net each partner an additional $600,000 if the award against Boston Scientific is upheld on appeal.

In 2003, the firm worked on a massive price-fixing case in the cattle-feed industry that netted profits of $1.4 million a partner. That year Dickstein lawyers vaulted over such older and better-known Washington rivals as Covington & Burling and Hogan & Hartson to become the best paid in town.

Two years ago, a patent case against the makers of the hand-held BlackBerry device brought instant riches to partners at Dickstein’s downtown neighbor, Wiley Rein. Wiley Rein partner Jim Wallace was one of the first to send a congratulatory note to Dickstein’s lead patent counsel, Hoffman, warning that now all his partners can start giving advice on what to do next.

For Hoffman, that could mean a second bite of the apple. Hoffman has another case for the same stent plaintiff—and with many of the same facts—against well-heeled Johnson & Johnson.

Dickstein partners also have a stake in the $4-billion Exxon Valdez penalty, which was heard last month by the US Supreme Court. Should the verdict be upheld, an additional $500,000-per-partner windfall for the 150 Dickstein partners could be in the offing. And if that weren’t enough, poker-playing partner Ken Adams, who sits on the board of the World Poker Association, won $46,000 in two sanctioned poker events in April, a sum that he plans to share with his ever-wealthier partner investors. Of course, by now, that’s just soda-and-chips money at Dickstein.

This article appears in the May 2008 issue of Washingtonian. To see more articles in this issue, click here.

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