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Last month’s lateral movement was brisk among attorneys who switched law firms as part of the annual shuffle that occurs at the start of a new year. So far in 2006, the most action from lawyers hopping to new firm homes has occurred in the fields of real estate, intellectual property and financial services. Lateral moves for lawyers typically accelerate in the first weeks of a new year, after law firms have made their final tallies of the previous year’s financial performance. “There’s a lot of activity out there,” said Carrie Printz, managing director of David Carrie, a legal recruiter based in New York. Many attorneys start looking in September or October and notify their firms that they are leaving once compensation for the year is distributed, usually in December or January. Printz added that the months of April and May also are popular times for lateral moves. Attorneys making a change during those months usually begin considering a switch in January. One of the more notable moves so far this year involved the departure of 14 real estate finance lawyers from Dechert’s New York office to Alston & Bird. Dechert absorbed almost all of the lawyers in Swidler Berlin’s New York office last year. In another move, four Jones Day attorneys left to open an Atlanta office for Fish & Richardson, the intellectual property and litigation firm. Also, nine real estate attorneys left Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld’s San Antonio office to join 14-attorney Drenner Stuart Wolff Metcalfe von Kreisler in Texas. In addition, 12 attorneys from Holland & Knight’s St. Petersburg, Fla., office moved to Trenam Kemker of Tampa, Fla., which focuses on litigation, real estate and corporate transactions. Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman lost six financial services attorneys to Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw’s Washington and New York offices. Heller Ehrman gained eight labor and employment attorneys from New York’s Kelley Drye & Warren. A January move by patent litigator Kelly Clement from Howrey in Washington to Kaye Scholer was the result of months of “weighing the pros and cons,” he said. A total of four Howrey lawyers went to Kaye Scholer, including Alan Fisch. Clement and Fisch won a $62.3 million verdict in a patent infringement case against Microsoft Corp. in 2003. “I was at Howrey 11 years. You don’t make these decisions lightly,” Clement said. Avoiding conflicts of interest was main reason for the move to New York-based Kaye Scholer, he added.
LATERALS IN 2006 Some bigger moves so far this year.
Old firm Number of Attorneys New Firm
Dechert 14 Alston & Bird
Holland & Knight 12 Trenam Kemker
Kelley Drye 8 Heller Ehrman
Patton Boggs 6 Pillsbury Winthrop
Pillsbury Winthrop 6 Mayer Brown
Jones Day 4 Fish & Richardson
Source: The National Law Journal

In another notable move, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati’s Bruce Vanyo, a veteran litigator, recently joined Chicago-based Kirkland & Ellis. Many smaller moves Several lateral moves by smaller groups and individual IP attorneys also occurred last month. Los Angeles’ Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton added to its office in Del Mar Heights, Calif., one partner from McDermott, Will & Emery and another from Luce Forward. In Detroit, four IP lawyers joined Dickinson Wright, with three coming from Howard & Howard of Bloomfield Hills, Mich. New York’s Brown Raysman Millstein Felder & Steiner opened a Silicon Valley office by adding two IP attorneys, one from Squire, Sanders & Dempsey and another from Dechert. And Seattle’s Preston Gates & Ellis recently brought aboard five IP lawyers, including one partner from Leonard, Street and Deinard of Minneapolis and another from Seattle IP firm Christensen O’Connor Johnson & Kindness. Identifying the point in their careers when partners are likely to make lateral moves is more complex than it is for associates, Printz said. Associates’ moves often occur at specific milestones: either two or three years into their practice or six to eight years, when they have not achieved partnership status at their present firm. But for partners, a move can hinge on several factors, including a firm’s platform of business, a recent merger, the support that a practice group receives, the degree of decision-making that partners enjoy or a firm’s retirement policy, she said. “There’s not a set time for partners,” Printz said. Still other moves so far in 2006 included six public policy attorneys from Patton Boggs in Washington who moved to Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, and the addition of six former Adorno & Yoss attorneys to Chicago’s Arnstein & Lehr.

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