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Chart: 26 partners try, try again In the turbulent days following the collapse of Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison, partner-elect Kenneth Korea craved stability. He joined McDermott, Will & Emery’s intellectual property department because it had a strong � and established � platform. “A turnkey operation looked mighty fine,” Korea said. “But, after a couple of years, I realized it was the challenge and excitement that I missed.” A few months ago Korea moved to the Silicon Valley office of Greenberg Traurig, where he relished the challenge of building up the firm’s intellectual property litigation practice. Korea, like many of the former Brobeck crew, was shocked at the firm’s rapid demise, and rushed to secure a new position elsewhere. But not even three years later, he is one of at least 26 partners � or approximately one-sixth of the Brobeck partnership � to have made a second move. The reasons are varied, but many of the partners agree that the accelerated pace of the decision-making process during Brobeck’s collapse didn’t provide sufficient time to make such a serious career choice. Some also have found new opportunities that weren’t available at the time. Still others say the move allowed them to break free of their comfort zone and reexamine priorities. “It’s not like they were recruited away as lateral partners � these people changed jobs because they had to,” consultant Richard Gary said. “In situations like that, it’s not unusual for a percentage of people to relocate once more because the first relocation simply didn’t work out to their complete satisfaction.” Former partner Luther Orton went to Gray Cary Ware & Freidenrich while he worked on the Brobeck liquidation committee. During that year, he said, he began thinking of starting a new, small firm with Stephen Snyder and James Miller, also former Brobeck partners working on the firm’s liquidation. As Gray Cary emphasized growth and expansion efforts � its recent merger helped create a 3,000-lawyer firm � Orton realized he wanted the opposite. He decided to practice law in a hands-on way � something he always had wanted to do, but likely wouldn’t have if Brobeck had survived. “There is a tremendous amount of inertia and comfort that comes from being somewhere a long time,” Orton said. The demise “opened up possibilities.” For others, the motivation was maximizing their platforms and minimizing conflicts. Earlier this year, former partner John Benassi moved from Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker to Heller Ehrman because of its strong business practice, bolstered by the recent merger with Venture Law Group. That created critical mass for his biotechnology platform. “I was hoping we could start from scratch at Paul, Hastings and build up a dominant IP group, but it’s difficult to do that � it’s a lot easier to do that within the framework of a firm like Heller,” he said. After the Brobeck collapse, Benassi had looked at Heller, but there were conflicts with his generic-drug practice. In two years, however, the conflicts went away. At the same time, it was becoming difficult to get a second round of conflict waivers at Paul, Hastings, he said. He and Jessica Wolff left Paul, Hastings and reunited with some of their former Brobeck partners at Heller Ehrman. In retrospect, Benassi might have made a different decision back in 2003 if there had been more time. “The lights were going to go out. We only had two weeks to make a move,” he said. “Paul, Hastings was kind enough to pay rent to keep us going but unfortunately, it didn’t work out.” When examining the dispersal patterns, it’s important to look at the overall legal landscape over the last few years, said Charles Fanning, a global practice leader with Major, Lindsey & Africa. The legal market in the Bay Area has surged, along with a heightened interest in lateral hires. “The market has gotten frothier and frothier,” Fanning said. “Had the number of options available today been available when Brobeck dissolved, they might have chosen them.” That’s true for Curtis Mo, a former Brobeck partner who went to Weil, Gotshal & Manges, then left to open a Palo Alto office for Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr. At the time of the Brobeck demise, “I was aware of what was out there and was able to narrow my list pretty quickly,” he said. He had planned on staying at Weil, Gotshal for the long term, but the Wilmer Cutler opening presented a “compelling opportunity.” The largest chunk of Brobeck partners went to Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, which had been in merger talks with Brobeck just before its dissolution. Many said it was a natural progression to stay with former Brobeck co-workers and continue practicing together. While some 50 ex-Brobeck partners are still on board at Morgan, Lewis, about a dozen have left. After a 15-month stint at Morgan, Lewis, former Brobeck attorney Roderick McLeod moved to the San Francisco office of Jones Day, which he said offered him more opportunities in the international arena. At the time of the Brobeck demise, his primary objective had been to preserve as many jobs as possible, he said. “We knew if we all scattered to the winds, the whole edifice would fall down,” McLeod said. “The more of us who moved in mass, the more jobs we protected.” But when a Jones Day partner later urged him to compare the opportunities for his practice, he realized his international interests would be better satisfied there. Like McLeod, former Brobeck partner Franklin “Brock” Gowdy said he also chose Morgan, Lewis to save jobs for more than a dozen people who worked with him. But despite turning down options that may have been more attractive at the time, Gowdy said, he made the right decision and plans to finish his career at Morgan, Lewis. “What I didn’t know at the time was the across-the-board outstanding quality of the people � the collegiality, the ethics of the firm,” he said. Gowdy equates the turnover among some of the former Brobeck partners to hasty decisions that may have been motivated more by finances instead of the firm’s personality. “I think there’s a lifeboat mentality to jump in the first nice lifeboat without looking at the crew,” he said. Morgan, Lewis partner Jami McKeon, who is leading the firm’s West Coast expansion, said there’s been less movement than anticipated. “There’s been some movement and maybe some of it unexpected, but there were a lot of talented lawyers,” she said. “In any large combinations, there are going to be some practices and people where it doesn’t make sense.” Consultant Gary pointed out that regardless of the movement, the majority of partners ended up at first tier “A-rated firms.” “Brobeck was a great firm, and it was full of talented, bright, highly motivated people,” he said. “They all landed on their feet.”

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