The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has found that law firms have no claims to unfinished hourly matters that departing partners take with them to new firms under the partnership laws of the District of Columbia.

In the bankruptcy case of former Am Law 100 firm Howrey, a three-judge Ninth Circuit panel on Thursday issued a unanimous order adopting the position of the D.C. Court of Appeals. The D.C. court found earlier this month that clients, not firms, control ongoing matters in response to the Ninth Circuit’s request that it weigh in on this issue of first impression under D.C. law.