In its annual survey of corporate legal departments, Fulbright and Jaworski L.L.P. found that 87 percent of respondents have been involved in employment and labor lawsuits in 2010, up from 83 percent in 2009, while 53 percent of those responding actually initiated the legal action, up from the prior year’s 46 percent. 

Overall, 93 percent of the respondents foresee an equal or even larger number of such lawsuits in 2011, driven largely by the shaky nature of the economy.

The 2010 survey gathered input from 403 in-house counsel, including 275 U.S. respondents. Initially launched by Fulbright in 2004, the survey is the largest canvas of corporate counsel on litigation issues and trends.

“Over the history of our survey, respondents have accurately predicted the rise and fall of litigation with the economy,” Fulbright’s Stephen C. Dillard said. “Since the global economy began languishing in 2007, litigation has climbed steadily for three years. It is telling that, even as in-house legal departments continue to carefully manage costs, more than one-quarter of this year’s respondents say they have increased their litigation budget and one-third say they have increased how much they spend on litigation.”

The survey also indicated that regulatory and compliance concerns were likewise on the rise.

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