A combination of several independent factors, including key departures and underperforming satellite offices, are said to be largely responsible for the struggles of Connolly Bove Lodge & Hutz, which is currently mulling a dissolution. One Delaware legal expert described the situation as "a perfect storm."
The factors, according to sources nationwide familiar with the matter, are said to be the departures of C.J. Seitz and Kevin F. Brady from the firm's business group; expansion offices in Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles, which were said not to have met expectations; a reduction in patent litigation from one of the firm's biggest clients, Pfizer Inc.; the possibility of a reduced role for longtime partner Rudolf E. Hutz; and debt incurred during the firm's 2003 move to the Nemours Building.
Delaware sources have not pointed to one particular factor as being the cause of Connolly Bove's predicament, saying that each issue has contributed to the firm's situation.
"It's a head scratcher because this is a good firm and there was no real tipping point," said one source familiar with the firm.
Multiple phone and email messages from Delaware Law Weekly to firm partners Arthur G. "Chip" Connolly III and Jeffrey Bove seeking comment have not been returned.
According to sources, the firm's Washington office, which opened in 2001, and its Los Angeles satellite, which opened in 2005, have struggled since their launch. They are relatively small, with only 14 attorneys in Los Angeles and 10 in Washington, but both were top-heavy with partners.
Of the 14 attorneys in Los Angeles, five are partners and four are associates, with the remaining attorneys being of counsel, according to the firm's website. In Washington, the office is composed of six partners, three associates and one of counsel.
According to one legal industry source, offices that are composed mostly of partners are a key sign of a slow workflow. Typically, in such offices, the partners bill at a lower rate and don't delegate to associates, although it could not be learned if that is specifically the case at Connolly Bove's two satellite offices.
The Washington office, which specializes in patent litigation, was said to have been hurting from a key departure. In 2010, the office lost partner Michael Verga, who left for Kilpatrick Stockton, which has since been renamed Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton. Verga brought three associates and one counsel with him to his new firm.