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The brain drain from San Francisco-based Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison continued last week as 25 associates accepted job offers from Clifford Chance. Brobeck’s sole remaining knowledge manager, Jeff Rovner, also hopped on the Clifford Chance bandwagon. The exodus began July 1 when 18 former Brobeck partners, led by former firm Chairman Tower Snow Jr., opened Clifford Chance’s California office. Snow was expelled from the firm in May; the others were free to leave Brobeck on June 28 when their 30-day notice expired. At that time they were also able to solicit associates and staff to come with them. A former Brobeck partner said Clifford Chance had made initial offers to 36 associates. So far, those accepting include 14 associates in San Francisco, nine in Los Angeles, and two in San Diego. Clifford Chance is also pursuing key staff members at Brobeck. Four staffers joined the London-based firm July 1: communications director Allan Whitescarver, communications manager Tom Orewyler, director of human resources Gera Vaz, and Stacey Donlon, executive assistant to the policy and operations committees. Rovner, who created Brobeck’s knowledge management department about three years ago, will join Clifford Chance on July 22 as director of knowledge management of the Americas region. “Clifford Chance is to knowledge management what Disneyland is to preschoolers,” Rovner said. “It leads the law firm world in knowledge management.” Rovner said Clifford Chance has approximately 50 people devoted to knowledge management support. Brobeck had a five-person knowledge management department until March, when the firm laid off three members of the team. One of the remaining managers, Peter Krakaur, defected to San Francisco-based Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe last week. Knowledge managers put together resources and information to be shared by attorneys throughout the firm. Rovner said Brobeck had decided to have practicing lawyers, rather than a dedicated group, take on these tasks. Brobeck isn’t the only place where knowledge management experts are pulling up stakes. G. Jackson Ratcliffe, who created Venture Law Group’s knowledge management system, has joined Palo Alto, Calif.’s Tsunami Software as its director of sales and marketing. Ratcliffe said Friday he started his new job July 1 and looks forward to promoting Tsunami’s “exciting” system that integrates disparate data. While he said he expected other staff people to resign, Brobeck firmwide managing partner Richard Parker spoke optimistically about the firm’s future. “More are staying than going,” Parker said last week following the resignations of the first four staff members. “The firm is pretty much back to where it used to be. Ninety to 95 percent of partners are doing what they’ve always done.” Senior writer Dennis J. Opatrny contributed to this report.

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