His practice has become more focused on the Southeast over the years, he said, representing SunTrust and other financial institutions, including G.E. Capital, Wells Fargo, JP Morgan and Bank of America -- all King & Spalding clients as well.
"We have a lot of similar clients, so I wasn't worried about conflicts," Molen said.
Molen, who characterized himself as a "young, vibrant, aggressive 60," said he wants to keep building his practice and sees a chance to be entrepreneurial at King & Spalding. "I don't want to ride out into retirement," he said.
He said his rates will go down a bit at his new firm. According to the most recent figure in the Daily Report's Going Rate database, Molen billed $895 an hour in 2010.
"That was a factor, but certainly not the driving one," he said.
Molen started practicing in 1977, spending 17 years at Powell Goldstein, then almost 19 years at Paul Hastings, after being recruited by Philip Marzetti, the firm's Atlanta managing partner and his former colleague at Powell Goldstein.
"This will be my last firm," he said.
Marzetti wished his former partners well. "It's always a little sad when friends move on to things they view as a better fit for them. I wish them great success."
He said Molen's departure was particularly bittersweet, since the latter is a good friend. The two worked together their entire careers, from Molen's arrival at Powell Goldstein as a summer associate through their time at Paul Hastings, Marzetti said. "I'm sad to see him leave and I hope he has a lot of fun."
Marzetti said his 1,000-lawyer firm has a "vibrant finance practice" among its 20 offices, including its 52-lawyer Atlanta office. "This is the time of year when we see a lot of partner movement. We will continue, as we always do, to look for talent and expertise that fit our needs."