On Feb. 23, partners at K&L Gates got some welcome news from longtime chairman and global managing partner Peter Kalis: The firm had collected $210 million in contingency fees, just $55 million shy of 2015′s entire net income, as part of a $750 million patent suit settlement for Carnegie Mellon University. That followed another positive development a week earlier, when equity partners received the last bit of 2015 compensation. For the first time since 2013, their average payout had ticked up a little.

But within 48 hours, partners, including some significant business generators, began streaming for the door—23 over the next two weeks, another five in late March. Several said they had grown uncertain about the firm’s strategy and frustrated with Kalis’ leadership. After a decade of firm investments in continuous national and global growth, they said, they still did not see higher profitability as achievable anytime soon.

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