Today is the last day at Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal for Marc Zwillinger and Christian Genetski — the chair and vice-chair, respectively, of SNR’s internet practice group. Their bios have already been removed from the Sonnenschein website (our links go to cached versions), and if you email them — as we did, to confirm the news — you receive an out-of-office auto-reply announcing their departure (and providing contact info for their new firm).
They’re leaving to start a boutique law firm, Zwillinger Genetski LLP, which opens for business on March 1. Zwillinger and Genetski will be joined by several associates and staffers who are currently at Sonnenschein.
“We are very excited about our new firm,” Marc Zwillinger told ATL. “As for our departure, it couldn’t be more amicable.”
How amicable? Let’s find out.
Zwillinger explained to us:
We have been here 7 years and are very proud of our experience at Sonnenschein and the firm’s willingness to let us explore this new opportunity. Accordingly, we will remain affiliated with Sonnenschein through a special teaming relationship. Through that relationship we will be able to use the breadth and reach of the Sonnenschein firm to assist seamlessly on client matters where Sonnenschein attorneys may be useful to Zwillinger Genetski LLP clients. Similarly, our legal services will continue to be available to Sonnenschein clients who want to access us through Sonnenschein.
The messaging at Sonnenschein is consistent. Earlier this week, chairman Elliott Portnoy sent out an email in which he informed the firm as follows:
As previewed in the Litigation & Disputes Department session at our Partners’ Meeting on Saturday, I’m pleased to announce the formation of Zwillinger Genetski LLP. Following some very positive and creative discussions, Marc and Christian will be starting up their own firm, focused on internet, privacy, and online entertainment, which will be launched on March 1. They will be joined by associates Jacob Sommer and Lisa Branco. We are finalizing a teaming agreement with them to jointly serve clients at financial terms favorable to the firm as well as our clients, without the imputation of conflicts across both firms. We anticipate mutually beneficial relationships, and we wish them well.
Also as reviewed in our Partners’ Meetings, Randy Sabett and Shane McGee are remaining at Sonnenschein and will continue to be available to offer advice and counseling to Sonnenschein clients from the new Internet and Data Protection (IDP) practice group on the same broad range of Internet, data protection, gaming, and e-discovery issues that the firm has been providing via the old ICDP. They are, of course, ready and available to answer any questions you may have about their services. They are also the first place to which you should turn in determining which new matters should be handled by Sonnenschein and which should be handled by Zwillinger Genetski LLP.
To the extent you have clients that would benefit from our inhouse capabilities or from our new relationship with Zwillinger Genetski LLP, please consider how we can best serve them.
It’s nice — and, sadly, somewhat uncommon — to see such an amicable and cooperative parting. But internet law is a hot area, so there should be more than enough work to go around. Although it’s not yet clear which clients will end up where, Zwilinger and Genetski have in the past represented such big names as Yahoo, Directv, MySpace, and Cablevision.
We wish Messrs. Zwillinger and Genetski good luck on their new venture. The trend of prominent partners leaving large firms to start up boutiques appears to be continuing — see, e.g., BuckleySandler (formed by Skadden alums), MoloLamken (formed by Shearman and Baker Botts alums), and Stone & Magnanini (formed by Boies Schiller alums). We will continue to follow it with interest.
Zwillinger Genetski LLP [official website]