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Two of the first partners David Boies recruited to join the firm now known as Boies, Schiller & Flexner are planning to leave the firm. Steven R. Neuwirth will join the New York office of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges at the beginning of the year. Andrew W. Hayes is leaving at around the same time to head a nonprofit group he has founded. Neuwirth, 43, and Hayes, 42, both joined the litigation-focused Boies firm shortly after its founding in May 1997. Both had worked with Boies, 64, when he was a partner at Cravath, Swaine & Moore, Hayes as an associate and Neuwirth as a summer associate. Neuwirth later became a full-time associate at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, and worked for President Bill Clinton under then White House counsel Bernard Nussbaum. Both Neuwirth and Hayes said Thursday their departures from Boies Schiller were amicable and stemmed from their desire to explore other opportunities rather than any dissatisfaction with practice at the high-profile firm. But the decisions to leave by two younger partners also raise anew the question of whether a firm founded by legal superstars can groom a new generation of partners to carry the firm into the future. Neuwirth said Thursday he reached his decision after almost a year of reflection. He said he was drawn to the New York office of Los Angeles-based Quinn Emanuel, also a high-end litigation boutique, by the prospect of working more with West Coast media and intellectual property clients. He also said he was looking forward to working in a growing office. Quinn Emanuel’s New York office, which opened in 2002, accounts for 40 of its 200 lawyers. A. William Urquhart, one of Quinn Emanuel’s founding partners, said he hoped Neuwirth, who played a leading role in class action suits filed by Boies Schiller against managed health care groups, would help boost Quinn Emanuel’s profile in contingent-fee work. Hayes said his departure was in line with a longstanding plan to focus on political reform. His non-partisan organization, the Civic Foundation, will study and rate government agencies based on their efficacy and responsiveness to voters. “I always said I’d do this before I turned 40,” said Hayes. Jonathan Schiller, the Washington, D.C.-based managing partner of Boies Schiller, said Hayes and Neuwirth were “two very different people leaving for very different reasons.” But he acknowledged that the departures of two of the firm’s younger partners, especially two who had joined the firm early on, would raise questions in some people’s minds about the firm’s future viability should Boies or the other name partners step or slow down. “People have been saying this about us since we started the firm,” said Schiller, who is 59. He noted that the firm had just elevated seven associates to partnership. He also said he believed young partners and associates at the firm continued to take on much higher levels of responsibility than they would elsewhere. Though many of those young lawyers worked on cases brought to the firm by Boies, he said, an increasing number were also bringing in major matters of their own. “I think our presence in New York is growing beyond David,” he said. Schiller also said the firm, which has just reached the 200-lawyer mark, remained “a happy place to work” despite the rapid growth of its staff and practice. “We’re one for all and all for one here.” Though departures from Boies Schiller have been rare, those of Neuwirth and Hayes are not the only ones the firm has seen lately. Earlier in the year, New York partner Sean Eskovitz left the firm to join Munger, Tolles & Olson in Los Angeles. His wife, Katherine Eskovitz, was also a Boies Schiller partner at the time but she became of counsel to move west with her husband. She said Thursday the move was for family reasons and praised the firm for accommodating her and providing exciting opportunities for young lawyers. Another partner, Jack Stern, left the firm in 2004 to join the New York office of Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe. But Stern has since returned to Boies Schiller. The departures of Hayes and Neuwirth come at a time when the Armonk, N.Y., firm has been criticized for alleged ethical lapses. A large client, Adelphia Communications, asked Boies Schiller to resign in August over its failure to disclose that Amici, a company Adelphia was using to place documents in electronic databases for discovery purposes, was partly owned by four of Boies’ children, three of whom are lawyers at his firm. Schiller said Thursday that no firm member still had an interest in Amici. He added that the firm appointed partner Stephen Zack as its general counsel to vet ethical issues. Amici remained an issue in the bankruptcy proceedings of Adelphia, where Boies Schiller is still seeking legal fees, Schiller said.

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