Three months after Weil, Gotshal & Manges announced that it was thinning its associate ranks and scaling back its complex litigation practice, six of its litigation partners and two private equity partners in Dallas are defecting to Sidley Austin.
Sidley executive committee chair Carter Phillips says the new hires, who will join the firm's Dallas office later this month, are part of an effort to expand its Dallas practice beyond its current focus on intellectual property. "We had been thinking seriously about whether to keep Dallas as a purely intellectual property office, and this hire presented a perfect opportunity to have a more balanced office," Phillips says, adding that discussions with the group began less than a month ago.
The team is led by partners YVETTE OSTOLAZA, a cohead of Weil's complex commercial litigation practice and management committee member, and ANGELA FONTANA, a cohead of Weil's banking and finance practice. At Sidley, Ostolaza will be a global coordinator of its complex commercial litigation practice and is slated to become the Dallas office managing partner when current office head James Bradley steps down in January 2014, according to the Sidley release. Fontana will be a global coordinator of Sidley's private equity practice.
The mass hire also includes new complex commercial litigation partners PENNY REID, VANCE BEAGLES, ANGELA ZAMBRANO, YOLANDA GARCIA, and MICHELLE HARTMANN, and new private equity and global finance partner KELLY DYBALA. All of the partners are currently still at Weil.
For Weil, the departures come after a series of shake-ups at the firm. In June, Weil announced that it planned to lay off 60 associates and 110 staff members, as well as cut the compensation of about 10 percent of its 334 partners. In a speech to the partnership and in an emailed memo distributed firmwide, Barry Wolf, the executive partner and chair of Weil's management committee, said that as part of the changes the firm was looking to scale back its complex commercial litigation practice, according to our past reports.
Wolf also said Weil "will be deemphasizing" its Houston office, its only location in Texas outside of Dallas, sibling publication Texas Lawyer reported at the time. Sidley's Phillips says that while he cannot speak for the new partners, "the whole idea that a firm would significantly downplay one Texas office gives serious concern about the other Texas office."
In a statement, a Weil spokesman said, "Weil continues to have a strong presence in Texas in key practice areas that are a good strategic fit for our clients and our firm."
Earlier this month, Weil lost another partner in Dallas, M&A and private equity lawyer Michael Saslaw, who left for Vinson & Elkins.
Phillips says he anticipates that associates—and clients—may follow the group from Weil to Sidley, though nothing is definite yet. When Sidley hired 11 senior lawyers from Bingham McCutchen in April, Phillips says, the total number of Bingham lawyers to join the firm eventually rose to 30. Texas Lawyer has more on the Sidley hires.
In other Churn news . . .
Ballard Spahr has hired trial lawyer WILLIAM ALDEN MCDANIEL JR., who previously had his own practice, as a partner. Based in Baltimore, McDaniel is a civil and criminal litigator, with an emphasis on securities cases.
Crowell & Moring has added two partners from Dentons in its New York office. SAHRA DALFEN, who joins the corporate finance and securities practice, represents companies, issuers, and investors in mergers and acquisitions, securities offerings, and financings. JODY SALTZMAN, now a partner in the commercial real estate practice, negotiates commercial leases for tenants. Both Dalfen and Saltzman became partners at Dentons when SNR Denton and Fraser Milner Casgrain executed a three-way merger with their former firm, Salans, at the beginning of this year.
Davis Wright Tremaine has welcomed back former partner PETER KARANJIA, who spent the past three years as a deputy general counsel of the Federal Communications Commission. Karanjia is now a partner in Washington, D.C., in the communications, media, intellectual property, and technology group, as well as cochair of Davis Wright Tremaine's appellate practice group. A partner at the firm earlier in his career, he had left in 2007 to join the New York solicitor general's office.
Epstein Becker & Green has hired ALAN ARVILLE as a member in its health care and life sciences practice in Washington, D.C., from Ober Kaler. Arville's practice focuses on transactional and regulatory issues affecting the health care industry.
CHARLES STEVENS has returned to Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, where he last worked in 1993. Most recently a mediator at JAMS, Stevens joins the San Francisco office as a partner, focusing on government and internal investigations, white-collar defense, and regulated complex civil litigation. After leaving the Gibson partnership, Stevens served as U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of California, later founding a boutique firm, Stevens, O’Connell & Jacobs, which closed in 2011.
MICHAEL WALLER has joined Hunton & Williams as special counsel in its Washington, D.C., office. Waller most recently served as general counsel at the Belgian-based food retailer Delhaize Group, from which he retired June 30 after more than 13 years with the company. He previously served as managing partner of the Russia and London offices of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld.
NATHAN CLUKEY is now a partner in King & Spalding's tax practice in Washington, D.C., focusing on tax controversy and tax litigation matters. He most recently served as a trial lawyer in the tax division of the U.S. Department of Justice.
McGuireWoods now counts RICHARD HOLZHEIMER JR. as a partner in its commercial litigation practice, where he will represent clients in matters relating to commercial real estate, construction, land use, and condemnations, as well as business disputes and financial services litigation. He came to the firm from Cochran & Owen and will work from his new firm's Tysons Corner, Virginia, office.
McGuireWoods has also expanded in London with the hire of ASHEESH DAS, who will be in the firm's debt finance department as a partner after leaving his position as a partner on the finance team at Stephenson Harwood.
JASON ELLIOTT has lateraled from Morgan, Lewis & Bockius to Perkins Coie, where he is counsel in the labor and employment practice in Dallas. He will primarily handle individual and class action litigation.
Stroock & Stroock & Lavan has added TRAM NGUYEN, formerly the chief of the private funds branch of the Security and Exchange Commission's division of investment management. Now a partner in Washington, D.C., Nguyen joins the private funds practice.
The Churn is compiled from law firm releases and announcements. Moves based on our own reporting will note this. Please send all announcements and news releases to firstname.lastname@example.org.