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At least Tony Soprano lost his crew in a single, bloody day. But the fight for talent that now defines the Washington legal market seems to be giving Miller & Chevalier a variation of the Moe Green Special every week. Last week was no exception, with partners Thomas Johnston, Robert Huffman, Peter Hutt, and Sarah Nappi each joining the ranks of the depahted. The most worrisome loss for Miller & Chevalier, recruiters say, is Johnston’s exit to Shearman & Sterling. “We are pleased to add another talented and accomplished attorney to our tax practice,” says Robert Rudnick, head of Shearman’s North American tax group. “Tom’s arrival strengthens our global network of attorneys who advise clients on complex tax issues and defend their tax positions.” Miller & Chevalier, with about 100 lawyers, has said it will rely on its signature tax practice to rebound from the past year’s exodus of partners. Over a 12-month span, about 15 partners jumped, primarily from the international trade and government contracts practices. But losing Johnston, former chairman of the tax practice and who had been with the firm since graduating from law school in 1976, is a not-so-subtle indication that the firm is having trouble clinging to its core talent. Miller & Chevalier managing partner Marianna Dyson did not return a call for comment. Nappi, an international trade partner, left for Latham & Watkins, following in the footsteps of partner William McGlone, who left Miller & Chevalier in April, when he was serving as the firm’s vice chairman. “She’s a bright young star,” says a Washington recruiter of Nappi, who in December was named a partner at Miller & Chevalier. “That’s a great addition for Latham and really hurts Miller.” Hutt and Huffman, government contracts partners, moved to Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld. Hutt, who was the vice chairman of Miller & Chevalier’s government contracts practice, started last week. Huffman starts this week. “We frankly have been expecting these departures for a while now,” says Marianna Dyson, Miller & Chevalier’s managing partner. “We’ve always had a government contracts practice but we are re-evaluating that practice and it may be more in the nature of the health care area.” She added that former partner James Atkinson, who left for Winston & Strawn in March 2006, would be returning to the firm. Washington headhunters take note: Miller & Chevalier is fighting back.
Nathan Carlile can be contacted at [email protected].

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