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Last year, then-Howrey partner Karen Manos picked up a copy of Legal Times and was taken aback to read that her firm’s managing partner, Robert Ruyak, planned to rid Howrey of her practice specialty, government contracts. When Manos confronted Ruyak, she says he told her the paper got it wrong. Now, she says she realizes the paper was “a lot more head-on than anyone thought.” Last week, Manos left Howrey for Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, taking with her the last few million in the firm’s government contracts business from clients including Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, Kellogg Brown & Root, SAIC, and Raytheon. But Ruyak says the firm tried to find good hires for the practice. “We didn’t have much luck trying to get just straight government contract litigators,” he says. “But I had no interest, and I explained that to her, in building a full-service government contracts practice.” Manos says her experience at Howrey, which has seen a steady trickle of partner departures over the past year, is not unique. “The problem is the way the firm is being managed,” Manos says. “It’s like a third-world country. There is a small group of people who run the place, and if you’re one of the favorites, you do well. But if you’re not, then there’s no transparency.” Asked about her criticisms, Ruyak responded: “She’s a very frustrated person. I tried to keep her happy but at some point I realized that if she wasn’t going to be happy she should be at another firm.” At Gibson, Manos says, it’s a different story. The firm is holding a dinner to welcome another addition, Barry Goldsmith, longtime executive vice president for enforcement at the National Association of Securities Dealers. “That would never happen at Howrey,” Manos says.
Emma Schwartz can be contacted at [email protected].

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