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In a blow to Clifford Chance’s San Francisco office, securities litigation partners Dean Kristy and Kevin Muck have jumped to Fenwick & West. Thursday was their last day at Clifford Chance. Their departures came two days after antitrust partner Craig Waldman announced he would be leaving Clifford Chance for Cooley Godward. With the loss of Kristy and Muck, Clifford Chance’s securities litigation group has 10 partners in San Francisco and one in Los Angeles. It’s uncertain whether the remaining partners will stick with the firm. “I don’t really know what they’re thinking,” Kristy said. Rumors were circulating in the legal community last month that some California partners were looking to move. At that time Michael Torpey, co-head of the securities litigation practice, said his group had issues with the firm and that he was “very optimistic” they would be resolved. Torpey could not be reached for comment Thursday. A source familiar with the situation at the firm said Torpey and his colleagues were in New York meeting with Clifford Chance management. “My impression is that some time by next week a decision will be made if they are going or staying,” the source said. London’s Clifford Chance set up shop in California in 2002 with the hiring of 17 partners and 30 associates from the now-defunct Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison. The firm had hoped to become a competitive force in the region, but has been unable to attract a single lateral partner. Kristy and Muck said they got to know Fenwick partners through a mutual client, Cisco Systems Inc., and found that Fenwick’s corporate platform and technology focus meshed with their practice. “The opportunity to move to Fenwick just came up, and Dean and I were excited about the possibility,” Muck said. “Our securities and derivative litigation is particularly focused on companies in the technology sector, so it seemed to be a natural fit.” With their arrival, Fenwick will have five partners in its securities litigation group. “We want to be as active as possible” in securities litigation, said Fenwick & West partner Laird Simons III. The addition of Kristy and Muck “will make us much more of a player in this area.” Muck joined Brobeck in 1985 after graduating from Boalt Hall School of Law. Kristy, a 1983 graduate of Syracuse University College of Law, began his career at Shearman & Sterling and jumped to Brobeck in 2000. Kristy and Muck joined the exodus of partners to Clifford Chance in 2002, seven months before Brobeck collapsed. Clifford Chance spokesman Allan Whitescarver, who previously headed up Brobeck’s communications department, downplayed the recent losses. “We put this into context,” Whitescarver said. “The lateral movement of partners between law firms has become a common dynamic in the competitive landscape of the legal profession. Some weeks you have lawyers leave and some weeks you have lawyers arrive.”

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