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San Francisco-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 quite 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 re-examine 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.” Going hands-on 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-a three-way merger created the 2,928-lawyer firm DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary-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.”
Attorney First new firm Second new form
Luther Orton Gary Cary Ware & Freidnrich Snyder Miller & Orton
Kenneth Korea McDermott, Will & Emery Greenberg Traurig
Stephen Snyder Morgan, Lewis & Bockius (of counsel) Snyder Miller & Orton
James Miller Morgan, Lewis & Bockius (of counsel) Snyder Miller & Orton
John Benassi Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker Snyder Miller & Orton

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. 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.

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