Smart lawyers can generate better outcomes, and “defense firms” can act as plaintiffs.  That’s one of the messages from a May 23, 2016 American Lawyer article about Schiff Hardin’s finances. Some of the firm’s lawyers have spent decades as counsel to Owens-Illinois, the only national insulation maker that has avoided chapter 11 despite use of asbestos in its insulation. The article explains:

“A contingency fee related to work for The Flintkote Co. led to double-digit increases in key metrics at Chicago’s Schiff Hardin. The firm’s gross revenue was up 14.7 percent, to $276.5 million, while profits per partner jumped 21 percent, to $980,000, and revenue per lawyer rose 17.4 percent, to $875,000.

In September, Flintkote accepted a $575 million asbestos settlement from Imperial Tobacco Canada Ltd., its former owner, as part of its Chapter 11 reorganization plan. Schiff Hardin’s fee was just shy of $32 million. Without the Flintkote fee, Schiff Hardin’s gross revenue would have increased about 1.5 percent from 2014.”

Note, however, the O-I lawyers (and others) left Schiff Hardin to start their own firm, as the article also explains:  

“In January 2016, two of the firm’s former leaders, ex-chairman Robert Riley and former managing partner Ronald Safer, left with 20 other partners to start their own firm, Riley, Safer, Holmes & Cancila. The group included Patricia Holmes, a retired associate judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County who co-led Schiff Hardin’s investigations and white-collar practices, and Joseph Cancila Jr., who co-led the firm’s class actions practice.”