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If discretion is the better part of valor, then knowing what not to say is certainly one of the most important skills of lawyering. You would hardly know it, though, by the much-publicized blasts two firms have taken recently at departed partners. The point-counterpoint exchange of press releases two weeks ago over Pillsbury Winthrop partner Frode Jensen III’s departure for Latham & Watkins was only the latest salvo. It came just four months after Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison let loose on its ex-chairman, Tower Snow Jr., over his plans to move with other Brobeck partners to Clifford Chance. The two recent incidents aren’t as anomalous as one might think. In fact, both Latham and Pillsbury have found themselves in mud-slinging matches over partner moves. Latham was the unnamed co-conspirator behind a puzzling statement last year emanating from Stibbe, one of the Netherlands’ largest firms. Stibbe, in effect, disowned its 90-lawyer Paris office, accusing partners there of not getting with the program for international expansion. The real story, which emerged only months later, was that the Paris partners were talking to Latham, and eventually formed its new Paris office. For Pillsbury, the Jensen incident recalls a tortured saga involving the expulsion in 1993 of Philip Heller, a litigation partner in the Los Angeles office of what was then Pillsbury Madison & Sutro. Pillsbury management made sure that partners kept mum about the reasons for Heller’s departure. But Heller eventually sued, and as the trial approached, the firm went public with details of two misguided attempts at humor by Heller, which took the form of off-color letters to the general counsel of BankAmerica Corp., one of Pillsbury’s biggest clients. Who successfully obtained a defense verdict for Pillsbury? None other than Latham litigation partner Robert Long. The French showed that they, too, can mix it up with raiders. In 1999, Gide Loyrette Nouel, one of Paris’ leading law firms, showed just how raw the nerves were about the departure of two partners to London’s Linklaters. In a blistering press release, Gide referred to the relentless assaults of the “Anglo-Saxon” firms on the French bar — via lateral partner hiring — acknowledging that it had itself been a “victim.” The all-time award for lashing out, however, probably has to go to Weil, Gotshal & Manges. The New York firm’s management tactfully bit its tongue for nearly a year after partner Dennis Block left — supposedly over disagreements about the firm’s international expansion and other strategy issues. But evidently there was a lot of pent-up unhappiness about Block’s spin on his departure. When he openly criticized Weil Gotshal in an interview in New York Magazine, the firm’s management took off the gloves in a letter to the editor. In it, Weil Gotshal said Block had been asked to leave and the firm was better without him. (Block denied the firm’s explanation for his departure.) Related chart: Don’t Let the Door Hit You on the Way Out Copyright �2002 TDD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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