Patrick Alexander Bradford

When people leave the Chicago office of Sidley Austin, they do it in style. Remember the humorous departure memo of partner David B. Johnson, who left the firm to pursue a career as a novelist? Or the epic farewell message of associate Tyler Coulson, who left to hike across the country with his dog?

(And write a book about the experience, with a great title: By Men or By the Earth: A Corporate Lawyer Walks Out on Law, Love, and Life, and Walks Across America With His Adopted Dog (affiliate link).)

Today we have news of another lawyer leaving the Chicago office of Sidley. But this departure reads more like a mystery novel than a memoir. Let’s find out who’s leaving, even if we don’t yet know why….

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DavisPolk Davis Polk Wardwell new logo DPW.jpgEarlier this week, a reader drew our attention to an interesting development. The biography of Patrick Bradford, a prominent New York litigator and the first African-American partner at the white-shoe firm of Davis Polk & Wardwell, has been removed from DPW’s (hottie-laden) website.

“No idea why,” said our source, “but Davis seems like a place where disappearings are rare.”

Indeed. It’s one of a handful of super-elite firms, like Cravath and Wachtell and Sullivan & Cromwell, where partners rarely leave. When they do, there’s often a story behind the departure. See, e.g., Carlos Spinelli-Noseda and John O’Brien, formerly of Sullivan & Cromwell.

We followed up by calling the firm yesterday. The first time we called the main number, the receptionist hung up on us after we asked for Pat Bradford. This was very un-Davis of her, since DPW is known for its passive-aggressive uber-polite, genteel, “kinder and gentler” atmosphere.

We called back, and this time we were connected to a secretary who put us into Bradford’s voice-mail. We left him a voice-mail and followed up with an email. Today Bradford confirmed his departure from DPW, in a short statement to ATL:

I have withdrawn from my firm to pursue a position in government service.

A smidgen of speculation, after the jump.

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