Biglaw, Federal Government, Federal Judges, Health Care / Medicine, Judicial Nominations, Lateral Moves, Partner Issues, Patton Boggs, White House Counsel

Musical Chairs: Some Notable D.C. Partner Moves

It’s springtime in D.C., and we all know what that means. No, we’re not talking about the cherry blossoms; that was last month. We’re talking about the spinning of the revolving door.

We have some interesting moves to mention taking place in the nation’s capital. One top government lawyer is returning to private practice; one top Biglaw partner is going back to government, perhaps for good; and one major law firm, potentially party to a high-profile merger, is losing some partners to a rival — after holding them prisoner for a while….

It’s official: former White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler is heading to Latham & Watkins. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. We predicted it a few weeks ago, and Ruemmler worked as a Latham partner prior to joining the Obama Administration, so her return to the firm makes sense.

At an event in D.C. a few weeks ago for the Georgetown Law Journal (which she once led as editor in chief), I asked Ruemmler where she might be headed after the White House. She didn’t name names, but said she wanted to go to a firm with strong presences in both New York and Washington. So that comment — which would eliminate a lot of New York firms with limited or no presence in D.C. (like Cravath), as well as the D.C.-only firms (like Williams & Connolly) — also seemed to point in Latham’s direction.

Congratulations to Ruemmler on her return to Biglaw (and big shoe-buying budgets). Congratulations to Latham on a high-powered hire. And congratulations to Ruemmler’s successor as White House Counsel, former Kirkland & Ellis partner W. Neil Eggleston, on his new post.

The revolving door swings both ways (well, except when it gets stuck). Heading in the opposite direction as Ruemmler is Randolph Moss, chair of the regulatory and government affairs department at WilmerHale. Yesterday he sailed through his confirmation hearing for a seat on the federal trial bench in Washington, so it shouldn’t be long before he joins the D.D.C. (in a post-filibuster-reform Senate).

This might be Randy Moss’s final stint in government — it’s rare (although not unheard of) for federal judges to leave their posts — but it’s certainly not his first. After graduating from Yale Law, he clerked for Judge Pierre Leval (2d Cir.) and Justice John Paul Stevens. After his first spell at Wilmer, he returned to government, ultimately serving as head of the prestigious and powerful Office of Legal Counsel at the Justice Department. Then he went back to WilmerHale, where he worked until his apotheosis to the Article III bench. Congratulations, soon-to-be Your Honor!

Finally, let’s talk about the might-be-merging firm that was reluctant to part with partners. Squire Sanders, which might soon become Squire Patton Boggs,[1] is losing four health care lawyers to Jones Day: Scott Edelstein in D.C., and David Grauer, John Kirsner, and Lisa Han in Columbus, Ohio.

We heard rumblings about this group moving a while ago. A tipster told us:

Despite wanting to leave right away and start, they are actually being held by the firm chairman at Squire for 60 days, for no apparent reason. This is causing a big rift and is simply not cool. [T]he partners and others who are leaving feel trapped like prisoners.

Well, it looks like the prisoners are getting released. Katelyn Polantz of the Legal Times reports that the group will be moving sometime after the Patton Boggs merger vote. Polantz confirmed that Squire Sanders held the departing partners to the 60-day notice requirement of the partnership agreement — a move that, at least anecdotally, seems to be increasingly common among firms that are tired of losing laterals.

We’re always interested in hearing about significant lateral moves — especially in advance of the official announcement. If you have news to share with us, please email us or text us (646-820-8477). Thanks.

[1] I’m not sure why Squire Sanders consented to change its name to Squire Patton Boggs (hideous), especially since it’s doing Patton Boggs the favor of rescuing the flailing firm. But maybe the fact that Dentons was also courting Patton Boggs gave the beleaguered firm more leverage than usual. If Squire Sanders does become Squire Patton Boggs, don’t be surprised if it reverts to Squire Sanders or simply becomes Squire LLP in a few years.

Former White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler Returns to Latham [WSJ Law Blog]
Kathryn Ruemmler Returns to Latham & Watkins [Legal Times]
Wilmer Partner Breezes Through Confirmation Hearing [Legal Times]
Squire Sanders to Lose Health Care Lawyers to Jones Day [Legal Times]

Earlier: When The Revolving Door Slams Shut

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