Biglaw, Lateral Moves, Law Firm Mergers, Musical Chairs, Partner Issues, Patton Boggs

More Partners Depart From Patton Boggs

Some former partners of the dearly departed Dewey & LeBoeuf claim that the firm could have survived if not so many partners had defected in the final months. The wishful thinking theory of these Dewey defenders is that if the firm could have held on to more of its top rainmakers, the plan of paying everyone back (slowly) and waiting for work to pick up might have succeeded.

Perhaps learning from Dewey, the leaders of embattled Patton Boggs have been trying to get partners to commit to staying as the firm restructures. Not long ago, managing partner Edward Newberry declared that about 90 percent of the firm’s partners agreed to stick around.

But 90 percent is not 100 percent. Today brings word of more Patton partners headed for the exits. How many? Who are they? And where are they going?

Here’s a report from Casey Sullivan of Reuters:

In the latest defections to hit Washington, D.C., law and lobbying firm Patton Boggs, nine partners are leaving the firm, according to several sources with direct knowledge of the moves.

The departures come as the 350-lawyer Patton Boggs is in merger talks with the larger Squire Sanders and it deals with ongoing financial woes.

Two of the partners are among the top dozen performing lawyers at the firm, according to one of the sources, who is familiar with Patton Boggs but did not want to be named. One of the parting lawyers, Benjamin Chew, led the commercial litigation and antitrust group, while Kevin Boardman had been on the firm’s strategic planning committee.

Not long ago, Newberry declared that Patton Boggs would be asking 15 to 20 partners to leave due to subpar performance. It sounds like Chew and Boardman are not among this group (although maybe some of the other defectors are).

The departures do complicate Patton Boggs’s merger talks with Squire Sanders, which have been picking up steam. Squire Sanders will be less interested in absorbing Patton Boggs if its top business generators are no longer around.

As for where the defectors are going, Reuters reports that Boardman and five other partners are opening a Dallas office for McGuireWoods, while Chew and another partner are going to Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman. (That seems to leave one partner outstanding; not sure who that person is or where they’re going.)

For the sake of everyone who works at Patton Boggs, let’s hope that the firm can figure out its future and get itself on stable footing — and soon.

UPDATE (5:00 p.m.): Some additional details about the departures, from the National Law Journal:

1. From Patton Boggs’s statement: “The partners who have recently resigned were among the few who declined to make that commitment [to stay]. Their departures do not affect our ongoing discussions with Squire Sanders, do not impact our strategic plan, and are not material to the firm…. [W]e wish them well.”

2. Additional names: in Dallas, partners Adam Connatser, William Church, Jon Finger and Kevin Boardman all left. Connatser is at Dallas business litigation boutique Palter Stokley Sims Wright, and Finger and Boardman now appear on the McGuireWoods website as partners. Benjamin Chew now appears on Pillsbury Winthrop’s website. Gone from Patton Boggs in D.C.: Nigel Wilkinson.

You can read the full NLJ article here.

Nine partners quit Patton Boggs amid merger talks [Reuters]

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