In-house counsel say lawsuits down a bit, regulatory actions went up

By Sylvia Hsieh

Dolan Media Newswires

BOSTON, MA--Companies saw a slight decline in litigation last year but faced increased regulatory action, according to the 2011 Fulbright & Jaworski litigation survey.

The survey polled 405 in-house lawyers in the U.S. and U.K., and included 275 U.S. respondents.

The survey has reported a steady increase in regulatory proceedings since 2009. In 2011, 40 percent of in-house counsel surveyed reported one or more regulatory proceeding against its company in the previous year, up from 37 percent last year and 34 percent in 2009.

Litigation numbers have generally been on the rise as well since 2009, but declined slightly from last year to this year. The number of U.S. in-house counsel reporting one or more lawsuits against their company in the previous year dropped slightly from 87 percent last year to 83 percent this year. U.S. companies also reported that they were less willing to become plaintiffs, with the number of respondents who filed at least one lawsuit in the previous year falling from 60 percent last year to 52 percent this year.

Companies predicted that litigation will rise in the future. Ninety-two percent of U.S. lawyers surveyed predict litigation will rise or stay at its current level in the coming year, citing stricter regulation and company growth as reasons for more litigation.

In contrast to last year, when the poor economy was cited by 41 percent of respondents as the biggest reason for an anticipated rise in litigation, only 21 percent cited the economy as the catalyst for more lawsuits this year.

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Published: Mon, Nov 14, 2011