Beth Wilkinson, a star litigator at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, has left the firm to launch a new firm along with high-profile litigators from Kirkland & Ellis and Covington & Burling.
Alexandra Walsh, a white-collar criminal defense partner at Paul Weiss in Washington, D.C., will also be a name partner at the new, trial-focused boutique, Wilkinson Walsh + Eskovitz, along with Munger, Tolles & Olson partner Sean Eskovitz in Los Angeles.
In addition to Wilkinson, Walsh and Eskovitz, the firm’s founding partners include Covington & Burling special counsel Brian Stekloff; Kirkland & Ellis complex litigation partner Brant Bishop; and Eric Liebeler, a former Kirkland partner who spent the past six years in-house at industrial conglomerate Siemens Corp., where he was most recently head of litigation.
Paul Weiss chair Brad Karp confirmed that Wilkinson and Walsh were leaving the firm, saying he wished them well.
“They are sensational lawyers, and we’re confident that their new venture will be a great success,” Karp said. “We look forward to continuing to work with Beth and Alex in the years to come.”
In December, The American Lawyer named Wilkinson a Litigator of the Year for her victories for pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. and other clients. Walsh, hired by Paul Weiss from Baker Botts in 2013, joined Wilkinson in defending Pfizer Inc. against allegations that it did not provide enough warning about the risks associated with the antidepressant Zoloft.
Wilkinson and Walsh also teamed up with Proskauer Rose in representing Major League Baseball in a major antitrust class action that was settled Tuesday on the eve of trial. They both worked out of Paul Weiss’ office in Washington, D.C.
Wilkinson joined Paul Weiss in 2009 after serving as general counsel of Fannie Mae. A retired Army captain, she began her legal career in the office of the U.S. Army’s general counsel before moving to the U.S. Department of Justice’s terrorism and violent crime section. She was special attorney to the U.S. attorney general and then a partner at Latham & Watkins for seven years before joining Fannie Mae.
Bishop, who joins Wilkison Walsh + Eskovitz from Kirkland, counts Siemens as a chief client. He has defended the company a number of times, including when Siemens was sued along with 90 co-defendants by the Republic of Iraq for allegedly conspiring with Saddam Hussein to corrupt the United Nations’ oil-for-food program.
The new firm will have offices in Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles and is already scheduled to try cases for Pfizer, Altria and Medtronic later this year. Liebeler, based in D.C., will serve as managing partner of the firm.