Joseph Serino
Joseph Serino ()

After 41 years at Kirkland & Ellis, James Schink left the firm’s Chicago office in December for Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan. Just six months later, however, Schink has quietly returned to his longtime home, which this week saw two other litigators decamp for Latham & Watkins.

Latham, the nation’s largest firm by gross revenue, a title it took by beating out Kirkland, has landed a litigation quartet in New York led by Kirkland partners Joseph Serino and Eric Leon and associates Kuangyan Huang and Nate Taylor. The new recruits are part of a move by Latham to expand its litigation offering to a global client base.

“Latham was looking to expand its commercial complex litigation practice and add more depth to its already impressively deep stable of trial lawyer and so that was a real motivating factor for me,” Serino said.

Latham has been on a lateral tear over the last 18 months as the firm looks to deepen its litigation bench and trial capabilities due to high client demands in cross-border litigation and coordinated regulatory activity.

“We have had an incredibility strong trial practice, especially throughout the U.S., and we have been on a mission to even further deepen those capabilities, particularly in New York,” said Latham’s global litigation and trial chair Jamie Wine, adding that this prompted the firm to bring on Serino and Leon.

Within the past few months, Latham has lured on a litany of litigators, including Quinn Emanuel’s Martin Davies in London and Thomas Nolan and Josh Hamilton in Los Angeles from Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and Paul Hastings, respectively.

“To be able to join a firm that has Latham’s corporate footprint was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up,” said Leon (pictured right), a former associate at Cravath, Swaine & Moore who in 1997 joined Kirkland, where he first began teaming up with Serino.

For nearly 20 years, the two litigators have worked closely together on countless cases in the commercial trial realm, including antitrust matters, M&A disputes and trade secrets battles.

“Eric and I try not to pigeonhole ourselves,” said Serino, who first joined Kirkland’s Chicago office in 1989 after a stint at local firm Coffield, Ungaretti, Harris & Slavin. (The Windy City outfit was absorbed by Nixon Peabody in 2015.)

Serino was one of first Kirkland lawyers to make the move to New York when the Chicago-based firm set up shop in the Big Apple in 1990. Four years later, Serino left Kirkland to join Hiscock & Barclay, a Syracuse, New York-based firm that merged in 2015 to become Barclay Damon. Ultimately, the bright lights of Manhattan beckoned, and Serino returned to Kirkland in 1997.

Schink, a former colleague of Serino’s in Kirkland’s Chicago home office, also returned to the Kirkland fold as of counsel in recent weeks. Schink declined a request for comment about his quick turnaround from Quinn Emanuel, which earlier this week added partner Michael Liftik in Washington, D.C., where he most recently served as a senior legal adviser at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.