The average U.S. real estate company faces an average of 10 separate lawsuits pending in U.S. courts each year — one of the lowest among industries covered in an annual survey.

The U.S. Litigation Trends survey, conducted for Fulbright & Jaworski LLP, a large corporate law firm, also found that the typical real estate company spent an average of $389,000 on litigation in the past year.

The law firm asked 422 corporate lawyers worldwide about their top litigation worries and attitudes.

The survey identifies prevalent types of lawsuits that businesses face and the types of legal burdens impacting law firms’ budgets.

Basic real estate issues were identified as one of the top three concerns for 75 percent of real estate company general counsel. Next on the list were contract disputes, identified by 50 percent of these industry respondents as among the top three concerns, followed by insurance matters at 38 percent.

And 25 percent of respondents identified each of the following categories among the top three areas of most concern: personal injury, environmental/toxic tort, and bankruptcy/reorganization disputes.

Other real estate industry findings in the survey:

  • 13 percent of real estate companies surveyed expect their U.S. case loads to increase next year;

  • 57 percent of real estate companies need the services of six or more outside law firms to handle their legal disputes work;

  • 25 percent of real estate companies have had at least one $20 million-plus lawsuit initiated against them in the last year;

  • 25 percent have class actions pending against them;

  • 60 percent of all real estate companies have conducted an internal investigation requiring the assistance of outside counsel within the last year.

Among all respondents in all industries, billion-dollar companies face 556 cases on average each year, with almost half facing 50 new lawsuits each year and 40 percent of large companies expecting the number of actions to increase in coming year, according to the survey report.

Insurers have an average of 1,696 lawsuits per year, followed by retailers and energy firms, the report states.

About 63 percent of U.S. companies launched internal investigations requiring outside counsel in the past year, and 70 percent of U.S. companies have brought actions as plaintiffs in the past year, according to the survey.

U.S. companies report spending 71 percent of their overall estimated legal budgets on disputes, and nearly 40 percent of the survey’s U.S. respondents reported at least one $20 million suit commenced against them in the past year. Two percent faced 50 new suits or more involving at least $20 million in claims – or more than $1 billion worth of new disputes on the table for some large companies.

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