The blog posted two offer letters to senior partners John Sweeney and James Gould Monday morning. The letters say seven Morgan & Finnegan lawyers will join as equity partners. Another six will join as income partners. Together, the group is expected to bill $28 million in 2009, the letters say.
The departures likely spell the end for the boutique, which was founded in 1896 and represented companies such as IBM, Procter & Gamble, and Bristol-Meyers Squibb. It was unclear what would happen to the 27 associates and 11 of counsel listed on the firm's Web site.
"We're excited about the possibility of the lawyers from Morgan & Finnegan joining Locke Lord, but it's premature to make any announcements at this time because details have not been finalized," Locke Lord spokeswoman Julie Gilbert says.
Sweeney, Morgan & Finnegan's senior partner, was not immediately available for comment.
For at least the last two years, Morgan & Finnegan watched as partner after partner departed for general practice firms. Morgan & Finnegan had 31 partners in mid-2007; today, its Web site lists only 17. Former partners have gone to firms including Goodwin Procter, King & Spalding, Covington & Burling, Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, and Dickstein Shapiro.
Documents in a sealed lawsuit brought by one of the Cadwalader laterals, Christopher Hughes, revealed that Morgan & Finnegan looked for ways to "protect the firm including exploring ways to discourage departure from the firm." Morgan & Finnegan said in court filings it amended its partnership agreement before Hughes left to create financial disincentives for partners to leave.
By most accounts, Sweeney was seen as the most prominent lawyer at the firm. At Locke Lord, Sweeney will earn $1.6 million and become deputy managing partner for the New York office, the letters say. Gould will become co-head of intellectual property and bank $1 million.
They will join by Feb. 2, the letters say.
This article first appeared on The Am Law Daily blog on AmericanLawyer.com.