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After voting to snatch as many as 20 partners away from Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison, Clifford Chance sought to make peace with the beleaguered firm. Peter Charlton, Clifford Chance’s London regional managing partner, flew to San Francisco last Tuesday night in hopes of meeting with Brobeck Chairman Richard Odom. Before leaving, Charlton had a letter delivered to Odom; upon his arrival he called Odom a number of times requesting a meeting. But he left San Francisco Thursday morning, having never gotten a response from Odom. “The purpose [of Charlton's trip] was to facilitate a smooth transition,” said James Benedict, the managing partner of what is known as Clifford Chance’s Americas region. “We had offered Brobeck to meet jointly with clients, which is the preferred procedure. To the best of my knowledge none of Peter Charlton’s phone calls were ever returned.” On Friday, Odom would only say, “We really don’t want to talk about Clifford Chance in this forum.” Odom did say, however, that the firm has weathered similar defections before. “Since I’ve been at Brobeck, there have been two other instances of substantial departures. We know what the issues are and we know how to deal with them,” Odom said. “We will come back stronger than ever.” Benedict said another thing Clifford Chance would have been willing to discuss was subleasing some of Brobeck’s unused office space. Brobeck has been trying to sublease 310,000 square feet of space — its old digs in Palo Alto, Calif., and about a third of its new space in East Palo Alto. Clifford Chance’s 650 partners completed a vote Wednesday to extend offers to former Brobeck Chairman Tower Snow Jr. and 20 Brobeck partners. As of Thursday, 15 partners had resigned to join Clifford Chance. An additional partner, New York litigator Christopher Johnson, also resigned, although he is not joining Clifford Chance. Johnson could not be reached for comment Friday, but Odom confirmed his resignation. And, Odom said, Mark Betzen, a corporate attorney in the Dallas office, is leaving to join Jones Day Reavis & Pogue. As the saga at Brobeck unfolds, a bevy of outside lawyers are getting into the act to advise the various parties. Clifford Chance hired New York’s Simpson Thacher & Bartlett; the departing Brobeck team pulled in Washington, D.C.’s Williams & Connolly. Brobeck had turned to Latham & Watkins Los Angeles partner Robert Long for advice prior to expelling Snow on May 17. Snow retained Cooley Godward Chairman Stephen Neal following his expulsion. A member of the Brobeck team said Simpson Thacher and Williams & Connolly were giving advice “on everything that should be done to assure that all fiduciary responsibilities are honored and discharged and to minimize any impact the departures would have on clients.” Benedict said he doesn’t expect Brobeck to file suit against Clifford Chance. “There would be no basis for litigation,” he said. “We have not had discussions with the staff, associates or clients of Brobeck.” But now that Brobeck partners have submitted their resignations, those involved in the Clifford Chance deal expect many associates who’ve worked with them will follow suit. And other firms may also feel the impact of Clifford Chance’s move into the Bay Area. In the wake of the Brobeck deal, Benedict said, he has received more than half a dozen phone calls from lawyers at other firms who are interested in coming to the West Coast. While the majority of the Brobeck team is comprised of securities litigators, he said Clifford Chance would be growing the corporate side. “We clearly do intend to build from the existing base, which is two-thirds litigation now,” Benedict said. “We plan to build significant capital markets and M&A capabilities.” But, he added, “I’m not sure I want to go too far, too fast until the market turns around.”

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