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Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison’s securities litigation group sustained another blow Monday — this time in the San Francisco-based firm’s New York office. Rainmaker Gregory Markel, one of the group’s top-billing partners and a member of the firm’s policy committee, is exiting for New York’s Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft. Securities litigator Ronit Setton, who joined Brobeck’s partnership ranks earlier this year, will leave with Markel. Setton began working with Markel when the two were at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe. The two are just the latest in a string of defections from the securities group. The departures started when former Brobeck Chairman Tower Snow Jr. took 10 securities partners — as well as seven partners from other groups — with him to Clifford Chance’s new San Francisco office. When Markel and Setton leave, the securities group will be left with 36 attorneys and six partners firmwide. That’s down from 73 attorneys and 19 partners just before the Clifford Chance deal. On top of the group that went to Clifford Chance, Brobeck has lost at least 17 other partners in the last seven months, including five partners from the New York office. A former Brobeck partner said Markel has been the biggest business generator in the New York office and the most senior securities litigation partner at Brobeck. William Sullivan, who is the head of the firm’s securities litigation practice, downplayed Markel’s exit — though he did acknowledge that Markel managed a large book of business. “Greg certainly was a big producer, but part of an overall team,” said Sullivan. “We expect a fair amount of work generated will stay with us.” Sullivan said Brobeck is looking for laterals to rebuild the group and expects to hire four partners by the end of the year. He indicated that the firm does not need to bring in as many partners as the firm has lost. “The group that left for Clifford Chance wasn’t fully employed,” Sullivan said. “Some were in management” and thus not full revenue generators. Neither Markel nor Setton could be reached for comment Monday. Prior to joining Brobeck in 1995, Markel had a two-year stint at San Francisco-based Orrick Herrington, where he chaired the firm’s litigation department. A 1972 graduate of Yale Law School, he started as an associate at New York’s Cravath, Swaine & Moore. He was a founding partner of Davis, Markel & Edwards before joining Orrick Herrington. With the move to Cadwalader Wickersham, Markel will likely see a big boost in income. The 400-plus attorney firm had profits per partner of $1.1 million last year, while Brobeck’s profits per partner plummeted to $660,000 — from an all-time high of $1.17 million in 2000.

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