When Anderson Kill & Olick P.C. fired trial lawyer John W. Fried along with 21 of its 130 partners on March 12, the ailing firm inadvertently triggered a further defection.

According to Mr. Fried and three other partners, Lee M. Epstein, a partner in Anderson Kill’s Philadelphia office, was so incensed by Mr. Fried’s ouster that he demanded an immediate explanation from the firm’s new managing partner, Jeffrey Glatzer, and his predecessor, Larry Kill. Mr. Epstein told them that by firing Mr. Fried, they risked losing a multimillion-dollar insurance coverage case involving TWA, scheduled for trial on June 14. Mr. Epstein had originated the case, and Mr. Fried was preparing it for trial.