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When a dozen minority lawyers joined the D.C. office of Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky and Popeo in 2005, the move was supposed to help the firm on an issue that many firms struggle with — minority retention. But last week the remaining three partners in the group, which was focused on labor and employment law, packed up and left for Thelen Reid Brown Raysman & Steiner. “We think Thelen has a broader capacity to introduce us to clients that would have a need for the kinds of services we provide,” says Edmund Cooke, one of the departing attorneys. “Mintz has a very different kind of practice and did not lend itself to a lot of cross-selling.” The group, which also includes partners O’Kelly McWilliams III and Darlene Smith, has represented New York Life Insurance Co. and Bell Atlantic and also advises companies on diversity issues. Andrew Ness, the managing partner of Thelen’s D.C. office, says, “They’re all strong labor and employment lawyers. But the fact that they have a very strong practice currently in the diversity consulting area is a strong benefit.” Ness says the book of business the group will bring over is substantial, and the firm expects additional lawyers from Mintz to join soon. Three other partners in the practice scattered earlier this year. Ch�rie Kiser, Mintz’s D.C. managing partner, says the departures had nothing to do with the group’s profitability or problems with minority retention at the firm. “Individuals, regardless of their color, have opportunities and like to take advantage of them,” says Kiser. “You see that throughout the legal marketplace.”
Attila Berry can be contacted at [email protected].

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