In a year filled with uncertainty, legal data helps make sense of 2020 litigation trends where the naked eye could not. The COVID-19 pandemic changed the legal landscape in unimaginable ways, and firms both big and small were not immune to the challenges it imposed.
Now more than ever, making decisions informed by data is vital to law firm success and stability. Utilizing legal data gives firms of any size the ability to better understand their competition, scope out business opportunities, and identify lateral recruits.
For the second year in a row, UniCourt has released its TrueLaw Litigation Index, highlighting the top 200 law firms for civil litigation across all federal U.S. District Courts. To produce the insights in this report, UniCourt downloads the data for every new civil case filed in U.S. District Court from PACER, and uses artificial intelligence and automation technologies to organize, clean, and structure the data to determine the real-world law firms involved in litigation.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at 2020’s top federal civil litigation law firm: Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease, LLP. We’ll also review a breakdown of Vorys’ cases, their top clients, and the story behind how they outranked other law firms in federal District Court litigation last year.
How Vorys Moved Up In the Rankings
Founded in Columbus, Ohio in 1909, Vorys takes pride in the firm’s history of success and growth from a four-person operation to a mid-sized powerhouse with nearly 375 lawyers across four states and the District of Columbia. Since its inception, Vorys has represented a wide variety of clients from children’s hospitals to Fortune 500 companies, and has been recognized as “bringing the same level of confidence and reliability as the big firms” to its clients.
Their confidence paid off in 2020, when the firm topped the charts of the TrueLaw Litigation Index by outperforming all other firms practicing in U.S. District Courts. Much like last year’s frontrunner, Williams & Connolly, the bulk of Vorys’ litigation came from one attorney. William D. Kloss, Jr., handled 4,218 cases for Vorys, most all of which were personal injury disputes representing Davol Inc. and its parent company C. R. Bard, Inc, which was previously acquired by Becton, Dickinson and Company. Unlike Williams & Connolly, however, the lion’s share of Vorys’ litigation took place in a single federal district in Ohio.
Here is a breakdown of Vorys’ top five jurisdictions for all cases handled in 2020:
- Southern District of Ohio: 4221
- Northern District of Ohio: 27
- Western District of Pennsylvania: 11
- Northern District of Texas: 10
- Central District of California: 8
But the data doesn’t stop there. With access to litigation data, we can see what Vory’s primary practice areas were in 2020, who their top performing litigators were, and even who their top clients were. Below we’ll discuss some of these data points for Vorys and what they mean in the larger context of leveraging intelligence gathered from data.
Digging into the Data
Access to litigation intelligence gives firms the data-driven insights they need to develop targeted business development, gather competitive intelligence, and power their knowledge management and legal analytics initiatives.
A breakdown of a law firm’s caseload can tell you a number of things, the most obvious being the case types which are most commonly handled by the firm. However, they can also give insights into potential areas of growth for the firm. When viewing these data points across a span of a couple years, trends become more apparent, allowing you to quickly point to specific case types on the rise and those that are dwindling year after year.
Here are Vorys’ top ten case types in 2020:
- Personal Injury – Medical/Pharmaceutical Product Liability: 2,737
- Personal Injury – Other Product Liability: 1,364
- Property – Real Property Product Liability: 60
- Contract – Other Contract: 32
- Intellectual Property – Trademark: 21
- Labor – Employee Benefit: 18
- Civil Right – Employment Discrimination: 14
- Intellectual Property – Patent: 12
- Civil Right – Other Disability Discrimination: 7
- Labor – Labor Standard: 5
In addition to better understanding the practice area distribution of a law firm’s litigation profile, it is also important to look at who their clients are.
A firm’s client roster indicates more than just who they do business with, it illustrates long-standing relationships with key corporate clients and reveals the relative strengths or weaknesses of those relationships. This in turn, can underscore a law firm’s financial health and well-being. It can also provide competitors and legal support firms critical intelligence on openings for business development opportunities lying just under the surface.
In 2020, Vorys represented a number of clients with household names across the finance, insurance, retail, and food services industries. Here, we’ve showcased some of Vorys’ most prominent clients across these industries:
- Fifth Third Bank
- First Financial Bank
- Heritage Bank
- Huntington National Bank
- North Side Bank and Trust Company
- PNC Bank National Association
- PNC Financial Services Group, Inc.
- U.S. Bancorp
- US Bank National Association
- Vanguard Securities, Inc.
- Integrity Life Insurance Company
- American Alternative Insurance Corporation of Delaware
- Community Insurance, Inc.
- Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan
- The Western and Southern Life Insurance
- Columbus Life Insurance Company
- Gerber Life Insurance Company
- Mary Kay, Inc.
- Big Lots Stores, Inc.
- General Nutrition Corporation
- Mattress Firm, Inc.
- Abercrombie & Fitch Management Co.
- Victoria’s Secret Stores, L.L.C.
- Bath & Body Works Direct, Inc.
- Safelite Solutions, L.L.C.
- Nintendo of America Inc.
- The Kroger Co.
- Bob Evans Restaurants, L.L.C.
- Foodfirst Global Restaurants, Inc.
- Wholesale Beer & Wine Association of Ohio
When assessing the strength of a law firm’s litigation practice, it is important to also look at who their top litigators are and how spread out their case volume is across the firm. This data can be used for a range of business development and legal marketing efforts, from legal support firms interested in targeting rainmakers who might need their services in future litigation work to competitor firms seeking the best lateral candidates with large books of business to poach. Here are Vorys top ten attorneys from last year, including Mr. Kloss, Jr.:
- William Darrell Kloss, Jr.: 4,218
- Daniel J. Clark: 17
- Kent Allen Britt: 11
- Michael J. Garvin: 11
- Aaron M. Williams: 10
- John R. Conley: 8
- Rex W. Miller, II: 8
- Patrick R. Akers: 7
- Amanda M. Miggo: 7
- Mark C. Zheng: 7
While any one of the data points we’ve reviewed on Vory’s litigation can provide a window into how the firm fared during 2020 and open up a new line of inquiries into the firm’s performance, they mean so much more when taken together as a whole.
By looking at a firm’s litigation by jurisdiction, practice area, their clients, and their attorneys, we can see a more complete picture of who the firm is and gather actionable intelligence in the process.
Further, we can dig even deeper into a firm’s litigation profile by adding in other data points like the statuses of pending litigation, how long it took to close out certain types of cases, and whether the firm obtained judgments, settlements, or dismissals for their clients. With litigation data we can see the forest, the trees, and everything in between.
To learn more about the TrueLaw Litigation Index, check our recent blog post where we explain how this year’s report was developed, provide a rundown of the top ten firms for civil litigation in 2020, and reveal which firms saw the largest gains and losses in the rankings from 2019 to 2020.
Josh Blandi is the CEO and Co-Founder of UniCourt, a SaaS offering using machine learning to disrupt the way court data is organized, accessed, and used. UniCourt provides Legal Data as a Service (LDaaS) via our APIs to AmLaw 50 firms and Fortune 500 businesses for accessing normalized court data for business development and intelligence, analytics, machine learning models, process automation, background checks, investigations, and underwriting.