Some Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher attorneys are predicting an identity somersault as word intensifies that controversial managing partner Wesley Howell Jr. will succeed chairman Ron Beard as top leader of the firm, possibly shifting the longtime locus of power from Los Angeles to New York City.

Certainly, it has become almost commonplace for big firms to stretch the mantle of leadership across various offices. Generally, it’s as much a symbolic gesture as anything else, signaling that a firm is no longer inextricably tied to its historical home base.