Steptoe & Johnson among nation's largest law firms

CHARLESTON – Steptoe & Johnson PLLC again has made The National Law Journal’s annual survey of the nation’s 250 largest firms. With 170 lawyers, Steptoe & Johnson ranked 244th on the list, which was released last week. It is the only West Virginia-based firm on the 28th annual list, which covers the period of Oct. 1, 2004, to Sept. 30, 2005. “When I started with the firm, we had between 20 and 25 lawyers,” said Bob Steptoe, CEO. “It’s nice to see the firm grow, but size isn’t that much of a barometer of how you’re doing.” Rather, Steptoe said two other standards measure a firm’s success. “One would be the quality of your practice, your clients and the type of work you’re doing,” he said. “A second would be how happy your lawyers and employees are.” For the survey, Steptoe & Johnson had 170 lawyers at its six offices across the state that, as Steptoe said, helps the firm serve any part of West Virginia as well as doing some work in border states such as Ohio and Kentucky. “It’s a reflection that we’ve had a lot of expanded needs,” Steptoe said of the firm’s size. “There are new practice areas opening up in West Virginia that you wouldn’t have seen 10 years ago.” Steptoe cited one such example. “When you think of West Virginia, you don’t think of patent lawyers,” he said. “But we have two licensed patent lawyers at a half or a third of the cost of one in Washington and other places.” And the list supports that statement. Of the firms that did provide an average starting salary, Steptoe & Johnson was among the lowest on the list. Two other firms with offices in West Virginia also made The National Law Journal’s list. Dinsmor & Shohl, headquartered in Cincinnati, came in at 149th with 284 attorneys, including 20 at its office in Charleston. Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott, headquartered in Pittsburgh, ranked 166th with 247 lawyers, including five lawyers at an office in Morgantown.

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