By Terry Baynes
Feb 27 (Reuters) - While regulatory investigations reached a
five-year high across different industries in 2012, healthcare
industry in-house counsel reported a decline in regulatory
scrutiny, according to Fulbright's 9th Annual Litigation Trends
In 2012, 33 percent of surveyed in-house lawyers reported
facing new government regulatory proceedings, down from 49
percent in 2011.
The finding seems to contradict the widespread perception
that the federal government has ramped up its investigation and
enforcement efforts to combat fraud on federal health programs
like Medicare and Medicaid.
A number of healthcare lawyers said the decline was
surprising, but they did not have an immediate explanation.
The annual global litigation report is based on surveys from
392 in-house lawyers for companies in multiple industries, most
of which are based in the United States and the United Kingdom.
The survey pool is evenly split between public and private
The survey revealed that more companies were retaining
outside counsel for assistance with government investigations
than in prior years. The percentage was the highest for the
healthcare sector, with 80 percent of in-house lawyers in 2012
reporting that they had retained an outside firm for a
government investigation, despite the slump in regulatory
proceedings from last year.
Healthcare is in the top three industries where in-house
lawyers expect to be handling more litigation in the next year,
according to the Fulbright & Jaworski survey. Thirty-four
percent of in-house lawyers in healthcare expected the number of
legal disputes to go up, just behind the retail and energy
sectors. It was also one of the industries most likely to
increase its staff to manage litigation over the next year.
Much of the litigation for healthcare companies involved
labor and employment as well as contract issues, said Otway
Denny, the head of Fulbright's global disputes practice. Those
lawyers also reported a significant number of whistle-blower
allegations, he said.
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