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After a decade as a partner at Philadelphia’s Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads, and the past four years as chair of the labor and employment group, Doreen Davis announced plans to join Morgan Lewis & Bockius. Davis, who resigned last week and hopes to start at Morgan Lewis next Monday, said it is no coincidence that her move comes shortly after her stint as chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association. Morgan Lewis labor and employment partner Tim O’Reilly “contacted me at the end of my chancellorship [in December],” Davis said. “Now that being chancellor is behind me I can focus completely on my practice. That’s why the timing is what it is.” Davis, who chaired a renowned 30-attorney labor and employment group at Montgomery McCracken, said she felt Morgan Lewis could give her national practice a better platform because of its offices in locales such as New York, Los Angeles, Miami and Washington, D.C. Even during her 12 months as chancellor last year, Davis said she made 14 separate trips to Los Angeles, where she has a handful of major clients. Morgan Lewis, which has 16 labor and employment lawyers in Los Angeles, would be able to assist Davis when client matters crop up. “I think she was impressed by the depth and national scope of our [labor and employment] practice,” said Howard L. Meyers, managing partner for Morgan Lewis’ Philadelphia office. “Our firm has been built upon lawyers assisting each other across offices, so it would make sense for her to refer work to our Los Angeles lawyers when it’s appropriate. She has an increasingly national practice that needs to be serviced by lawyers outside the Delaware Valley. “She’s a widely recognized leader of the bar as well, and we’ve been impressed with her as a person for quite some time. That was really the driving force in our making an overture. Her leadership and reputation that she has rightfully earned in the bar and client community is just what a growing practice like ours needs. And people like her find that a practice like ours can take her to another level professionally.” Morgan Lewis has 47 labor and employment lawyers in Philadelphia and 178 firmwide, including its chair, Mark Dichter, who is currently serving a term as chair of the American Bar Association’s labor and employment section. Davis made it clear that the depth and geographic reach of Morgan Lewis’ practice led to her decision, not any problems at Montgomery McCracken. She said Morgan Lewis was the only firm in which she held conversations about making a lateral move. Switching firms was a bittersweet decision for Davis, who will have to say goodbye to her mentor and friend of the past quarter century, Thomas Felix, and other close colleagues like Montgomery McCracken chairman David Marion. For Montgomery McCracken, this is the second major defection this spring. In March, rainmaking litigator Howard Scher and four other partners left for Pittsburgh, Pa.-based Buchanan Ingersoll. Marion said he is disappointed to see Davis go, but he has a theory about what precipitated it. Marion calls it PCS — Post Chancellor Syndrome. It was something he said he encountered after completing his chancellor run in 1986. Ironically, he left Kohn Swift & Graf in Philadelphia for Montgomery McCracken in May, the same month Davis is leaving for Morgan Lewis. “For a year, you’re the belle of the ball,” Marion said of being chancellor. “You get honored at luncheons. People call you for quotes on every topic, even for topics you know nothing about. Then it all ends, you go back to being just another lawyer and you get restless. So I wasn’t surprised about this. In fact, I expected it. “This is the 21st century and you have to live with people leaving when they think they can pursue an opportunity. The Scher thing was much more of a threat because he took four other people with him. Thankfully, [litigation and labor and employment] are both areas where we have strength and depth. We’re in good shape, and we wish Doreen well.” Marion said Felix will become labor and employment department chair, with partner Ken Jarin also helping out. But he said that because Davis had spent much of the past two years tied up with bar association duties, she had delegated much of the department’s managerial responsibility to her partners. Just like rising to chancellor last year, becoming a partner at the city’s largest law firm is a long way from Davis’ humble beginnings as a child just outside of Wilkes-Barre in the small town of Harvey’s Lake, Pa., where the public school system had yet to produce a lawyer. Davis became the first Lake Lehman High School alumna to pass the bar exam after graduating from Temple University Law School in 1978. While at Temple, Davis met and forged a career-long relationship with attorney Felix, a professor of hers who went on to become her mentor and friend. She spent the first year of her career as a field attorney for the National Labor Relations Board and then joined Felix at Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel in Philadelphia. Davis later joined litigation and labor and employment boutique Sprecher Felix Visco Hutchinson & Young, which merged its labor group into Montgomery McCracken in 1991. Davis’ practice focuses on representing management in high-profile employment negotiations, as well as National Labor Relations Board advice and litigation and employment litigation. As the 73rd chancellor of the bar association, Davis took on all comers on some controversial issues, most notably during a six-month long debate that recently led to the passage of her proposal to add Internet and mail voting to the traditional means of casting votes for bar association officers.

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