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When Vincent R. FitzPatrick and seven other partners left White & Case to join New York-based Dewey Ballantine in 1995, lateral partner moves were much rarer than they are today. Representing about a third of White & Case’s New York litigation partners, the eight departures were widely regarded as a major blow to White & Case and, more specifically, a repudiation of the firm’s costly overseas expansion strategy. Now FitzPatrick is returning to New York-based White & Case to become global head of the firm’s 350-lawyer litigation and international arbitration practice. He will be joined by two Dewey Ballantine litigation partners, Robert A. Milne, who joined the 1995 group defection as a White & Case associate, and Wayne A. Cross. In a statement, FitzPatrick effusively praised White & Case’s global presence. “The global depth and reach of White & Case is extraordinary, and I am being given a wonderful and unique opportunity to guide and expand a global litigation powerhouse,” said FitzPatrick. “I think [FitzPatrick has] now decided international expansion can be a good thing, if it’s done right,” said Duane D. Wall, managing partner of White & Case. Indeed, in the last seven years, international expansion, once highly controversial, has become an article of faith for most major firms, including Dewey Ballantine, which in recent months has announced major expansions for London, Germany and Poland. Jonathan Lindsey, a legal recruiter with Major, Hagen & Africa, said litigators in the past often saw little value in firms’ investments in overseas offices, which were largely oriented towards transactional practices. Growth of practices like international arbitration have lessened such objections. “A lot of firms are now trying to match the investment White & Case already made,” said Lindsey. FOCUS ON NEW YORK That is quite a change from 1995, when Paul Bschorr, the White & Case management committee member who led the defections, told the New York Law Journal that White & Case’s focus on international expansion was one of the reasons the group was leaving. “When you have far-flung operations, there is the issue of quality control,” Bschorr told the Law Journal in 1995. “The number of offices [White & Case has] is too many.” Bschorr declined to comment on FitzPatrick’s move Monday. White & Case still retains far more of an international focus than most firms, but Wall said the firm sees the need to beef up its New York-based practices, with a particular emphasis on recruiting senior litigation partners. “We have been a little lacking in that area in recent years,” said Wall. FitzPatrick, who began his career at White & Case in 1969, is replacing Richard J. Holwell as head of the firm’s litigation department. Holwell, a nominee to become a judge in the Southern District, is expected to leave the firm at the end of the year.

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