If there is a firm model built for the dawning post-recession era, it's probably a litigation boutique with low overhead and a flexible billing structure. That model has attracted two new converts: Steven Molo of Shearman & Sterling and Jeff Lamken of Baker Botts have announced that they're leaving their firms to start up MoloLamken, which will have offices in New York and Washington, D.C.
Molo, 52, has been with Shearman for the last five-and-a-half years. Before that, he spent 18 years at Winston & Strawn, where he served on the executive committee. Recently, he's represented Deutsche Bank against Donald Trump and persuaded federal prosecutors to drop charges against David Stockman, the former congressman and CEO of the now defunct auto parts supplier Collins + Aikman.
Lamken, 45, headed the Supreme Court practice at Baker Botts and will argue three cases before the Court in the term that's about to begin. Before joining Baker Botts, Lamken served in the Justice Department's office of the solicitor general.
Molo told the Litigation Daily Monday that he and Lamken first met while representing Morgan Stanley in its successful appeal of financier Ronald Perelman's whopper $1.57 billion verdict against the bank. Over time, they both expressed an interest in striking out on their own to take advantage of the changes sweeping the legal industry. Molo said he talked to other lawyers who have started litigation boutiques, including Fred Bartlit of Bartlit Beck Herman Palenchar & Scott; Marc Kasowitz of Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman; and Steven Susman of Susman Godfrey. "They were all very positive [about the move]," said Molo.
The firm will start with four partners and two associates, and will work on both plaintiffs and defense cases. Within five years, Molo says he hopes to have around 50 lawyers. "Over time, clients have become far more sophisticated in hiring firms," he said. "They understand how a firm like this can be small but every bit as efficient or even more so than a larger firm."
This article first appeared on The Am Law Litigation Daily blog on AmericanLawyer.com.