Biglaw, California, Lateral Moves, Musical Chairs, Partner Issues

Whatever Happened to Baker & McKenzie – San Diego?

Back in February, we wondered about the fate of Baker & McKenzie’s San Diego office. Word on the street was that the office might be closing.

We now have an update on those reports….

The reports of this office’s demise were not greatly exaggerated. The office officially closed this past Friday, according to the San Diego Source.

This shouldn’t come as a shock. Last month, the Daily Journal reported (sub. req.):

Baker & McKenzie LLP is slated to officially close its San Diego office by the end of March, according to three sources familiar with the matter.

The closure has been anticipated for the past month since a spate of recent departures put into question how much longer the firm could sustain a San Diego presence with a headcount of as few as eight attorneys and as much as 30,000 square feet of office space on the firm’s lease agreement. Recent departures included intellectual property specialists Howard Wisnia and James Conley, who left for Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky & Popeo P.C., and corporate attorney Maria Sendra, who left for Jones Day.

Recruiters and consultants have downplayed the closure, saying Baker & McKenzie’s presence in the region, which had diminished over the past decade by a decrease in headcount of dozens of lawyers, was not a crucial component to the firm. The closure will bring to 69 the number of Baker offices, which staff roughly 3,800 attorneys worldwide.

If you go to the list of locations on the Baker website, you will look in vain for mention of San Diego. The office was around for quite some time; as the description that used to be on the website once stated, “For more than two decades, our San Diego office has helped businesses in Southern California and across the world seamlessly manage a broad range of complex local and cross-border transactions.”

On the bright side, it seems that many of the former Baker lawyers have found new workplaces. According to the San Diego Source, partners Colin Murray and Chuck Dick have moved over to Baker’s San Francisco office. In addition, as reported by Am Law Daily, Ali Mojdehi — former chair of Baker’s North American bankruptcy practice, and also a top partner to work for, according to Above the Law readers — has jumped over to Cooley.

So it appears that the disruption from the closing of Baker’s S.D. office has been thankfully limited. But to the extent that some lawyers and staff have not yet found new professional homes, we wish them the best of luck.

P.S. We’ve reprinted, on the next page, the former landing page for the now-shuttered San Diego office.

Baker & McKenzie closing its doors in San Diego [Daily Journal (sub. req.)]
Baker & McKenzie closes San Diego office [Daily Transcript / San Diego Source]
The Churn: Lateral Moves and Promotions in The Am Law 200 [Am Law Daily]

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