Houston - The insurance industry, where companies face an average of 1,696 lawsuits, spanning product liability and environmental class actions to directors and officers claims, and even coverage fights over hurricanes and terrorist attacks, faces the most litigation when compared to other industries, according to a survey from international law firm Fulbright & Jaworski LLP, headquartered in Houston. Retailers and energy firms reported average caseloads north of 330 per company, which doesn't even come close to the insurance industry.In its third annual survey of corporate litigation trends—pulling data from 422 in-house law departments worldwide—Fulbright found that U.S. companies face an average of 305 pending lawsuits internationally. For large U.S. companies—those with $1 billion or more in annual gross revenue—the number of lawsuits soared to 556 cases, with an average of 50 new disputes emerging each year for close to half of them.

As lawsuits have multiplied—brought by shareholders, regulators, consumers, employees and competitors—so has another related event: the internal investigation. Nearly two-thirds of the U.S. companies interviewed by Fulbright reported that their companies had launched at least one such probe in the past year necessitating use of outside counsel, a certain byproduct of Sarbanes-Oxley legislation, as well as the recent mega-scandals of Enron and WorldCom.

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