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Holland & Knight lawyers James “Mac” Hunter and Jason P. Wright have left the firm for Morris, Manning & Martin. Hunter brings Bruce E.L.M. Strothers, a contract attorney, with him. The H&K departures follow the firm’s loss of four transactional partners and a commercial litigator — who was also the local managing partner — to Epstein Becker & Green in early February. Hunter joins Morris Manning as a partner, and Wright joins as senior counsel, along with Claudette Grooms, a senior paralegal. “Mac was a really good partner and a great guy. I’m sorry to see him go,” said local managing partner Robert L. Rhodes Jr., who took over the role after Jeffrey Y. Lewis departed in February for Epstein Becker. Hunter has a general business practice, which includes work in health care, employment matters and eminent domain. Wright, a litigator, focuses his practice on condemnation work. Hunter said that he’s bringing along 99 percent of his clients, who include government entities in the condemnation practice and small- to medium-size companies in health care. Morris Manning’s managing partner, Robert E. Saudek, said the firm saw potential for growth in Hunter’s condemnation work, which meshes well with the firm’s real estate and environmental practices. Those groups recently have been active in helping to develop the city’s Atlantic Station project. Holland & Knight’s Atlanta office could not provide the coverage he needed for some of his clients, Hunter said, particularly in health care, where he was the sole health care lawyer in the local practice. H&K’s Rhodes acknowledged that health care is “not a focus in this office” but said the health care practice firmwide was substantial. Rhodes said H&K’s Atlanta office would continue to grow despite the departures, which leave the office with about 53 lawyers. “I and the office are here for the long haul,” said Rhodes, who has been with the firm for his entire career. Hunter joins three Morris Manning partners whom he’d worked with at previous firms. Jeffrey L. Schulte had been the managing partner of Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis, where Hunter was a partner before joining Holland & Knight in 2000. Before Schnader, Hunter had practiced with David W. Cranshaw at Hurt Richardson Garner Todd & Cadenhead until that firm dissolved in 1992. He also worked with Elizabeth C. “Kate” Helm at H&K. Morris Manning also gained an experienced IP litigator, John P. Fry, from Alston & Bird in December. Fry had spent his entire career — almost 15 years — at Alston & Bird. He said he moved to Morris Manning for the opportunity to be “part of a group at a more rapid growth stage.” Morris Manning has an IP practice of about 15 lawyers, including litigators, compared to 120 lawyers doing IP at Alston & Bird, he said. He was one of the first lawyers in Alston & Bird’s IP practice, which started in 1993 with four lawyers. Fry said he does a lot of work with smaller tech companies, which he helps to develop a strategic plan for their intellectual property. When talking to prospective clients at Alston & Bird, he said, Morris Manning was the firm used as the benchmark for that kind of work. “I was not looking, but I was actively receptive,” he said, when Tim Xia of Morris Manning called him and described how the IP group planned to grow. Alston & Bird’s managing partner, Ben F. Johnson III, said that Morris Manning has a great record as a tech firm and that Fry saw an opportunity to build its IP practice. Fry is “an extraordinarily fine lawyer and a fine person,” Johnson said. His departure, however, will have “no substantial negative impact” on Alston’s IP litigation practice, Johnson said. Saudek said his firm recruited Fry because it needs more high-level practitioners in the IP group to develop its litigation work. Fry said he brought some clients with him and is negotiating with others. The IP group is also looking to expand its work in Asia, Fry and Saudek said. Xia will tour China and Taiwan in three weeks as part of that effort. “Morris Manning has an entrepreneurial spirit that I enjoy,” Fry said, adding that he likes taking on emerging companies as clients and helping them grow. Fry had no comment on whether the group was recruiting other Alston & Bird lawyers. “I welcome the opportunity to talk if someone is interested,” he said. “We recruit constantly,” Saudek added. ALSTON SAYS DASCHLE TALK IS PREMATURE Ben F. Johnson III, Alston & Bird’s managing partner, said last week that he’d been besieged with calls from reporters after NPR reported that former Sen. Thomas Daschle was considering joining the firm’s public policy practice. “We’ve had some discussions with Senator Daschle, but beyond that, I can’t comment,” Johnson said, emphasizing that the discussions were preliminary. The NPR interview with the North Dakota Democrat and former minority leader, who is not a lawyer, reported that he was looking at many options after a 26-year career on Capitol Hill, including think tanks, investment firms — and Alston & Bird. Alston & Bird has an active public policy practice in Washington that focuses on financial services, privacy issues, e-commerce and health care. Former U.S. Sen. Robert J. Dole, a Republican, headlines the practice. Another recent addition to the group, Thomas A. Scully, headed the Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services during President George W. Bush’s first term. Dole and Scully are both lawyers. Thomas M. Boyd, who chairs the group, is a former assistant U.S. attorney general in the Reagan administration and also served under President George H.W. Bush. Also in the group is Jonathan M. Winer, a Democrat who served in the Clinton administration as a deputy assistant secretary of state. Before that, he spent 10 years as a lawyer and adviser to Sen. John F. Kerry.

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