Biglaw, Intellectual Property, Musical Chairs, Partner Issues

Is Nixon Peabody Facing a Mutiny? Significant Partner Defections Could Happen

We know that most Biglaw shops couldn’t care less about mass associate departures. As exhibit A, I present this year’s bonus news.

But partner defections are another matter entirely — especially if a number of partners leave all at once, or if a thriving practice group jumps ship all at the same time. According to Above the Law sources, this is the situation Nixon Peabody could be facing in the days and weeks ahead. Multiple sources have told Above the Law to expect a significant exodus of Nixon Peabody partners and that the defections could start as early as this week.

We’ve been told that these defections will happen unless the disgruntled partners receive significant concessions from Nixon Peabody managing partner Richard Langan. And apparently some partners will not be satisfied with anything less than Langan’s outright removal…

We’ve been collecting information from sources all day. At this point, here’s what they are telling us:

  • A large group of partners is contemplating leaving the firm.
  • Some sources claim that large group is part of Nixon’s IP group, while others claim the contingent of disgruntled partners crosses through many practice areas.
  • The partners are dissatisfied with the leadership of Richard Langan.
  • Some of the partners have let it be known that if Langan stays, they want out.

Our sources are split as to what the disgruntled partners intend to do if changes aren’t made at NP. Some claim that they would be satisfied opening a “branch office,” while others say they would leave the firm outright and start a new one. At this point, we haven’t received any reports of a competing Biglaw firm that is waiting in the wings to snap these partners up. But if there are valuable books of business available on the open market, you can bet that there will be suitors.

Our sources have also offered up a lot of speculation about why these partners want out, and the message is that they feel like Langan is “ruining” the culture of the firm. We’ll have to wait until the PPP numbers come out to see if that “culture” has anything to do with Nixon’s bottom line.

An official spokesperson for Nixon Peabody gave Above the Law the following statement: “We don’t comment on speculation regarding internal firm matters.”

Clearly, this is a fluid process. We could just be dealing with a small group of disgruntled partners who aren’t getting enough presents in their stockings. Or our sources could be spot on and there could be a large group of partners ready to throw coal on Dick Langan’s house. But the bigger the problem, the more likely this will be handled through some kind of internal Nixon wheeling and dealing instead of the public exodus of loads of partners.

Do you have more details or information that we’ve missed? If so, please email us at tips@abovethelaw.com (subject line: “Nixon Peabody”).

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