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Six years ago, Clint Vince tried to lure lawyer and lobbyist Elliot Portnoy to his firm Sullivan & Worcester. No dice. Portnoy went to Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal, where he rapidly rose to become the firm’s chairman. And he just made a successful counteroffer to Vince, who headed Sullivan & Worcester’s D.C. energy practice. Two weeks ago, Vince, partner James Costan, and eight other former Sullivan attorneys, advisers, and lobbyists joined Sonnenschein’s public law and policy strategies group. The deal went fast. Only three weeks elapsed, Vince says, between the first phone call from Portnoy to the move. “I’m not very good at creeping around,” Vince says. “I didn’t want to be disrespectful of my prior firm.” The Sullivan group is bringing their practice with them, which Vince describes as skewed toward electricity and natural gas. Vince will be the head of the office’s energy and regulated industries practice. Given the increasing prospects of government-imposed carbon restraints, the idea of teaming up with Sonnenschein was attractive, Vince says. So was the firm’s lobbying practice. “All of our energy-related clients either need to know what’s going on on Capitol Hill or they need to shape policy,” Vince says. “We were kind of grasshoppers on this.” Mike McNamara, head of Sonnenschein’s policy group, says the firm’s priority is integrating the new employees, some of whom have been temporarily parked in conference rooms. The departures were a surprise to Sullivan & Worcester, which now lists 19 remaining lawyers in its D.C. office. Marketing director Leah Schloss says the firm is planning to rebuild its D.C. energy practice with an eye toward finance.
Jeff Horwitz can be contacted at [email protected].

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