“This group’s client base and practice is a natural fit for our platform and deepens our M&A, fund formation, and tax capabilities,” said Dominick DeChiara, Winston & Strawn’s transactions department chairman, in a statement on the hires.
The Jenner & Block departures come after a second straight year of flat-to-down financial performance for the firm, and Harris is the second practice leader to leave the firm in 2018. In January, Adam Petravicius, who led the firm’s intellectual property transactions, sourcing and technology practice, left for Kirkland & Ellis. That move was a homecoming for Petravicius, who joined Jenner & Block in 2003 after leaving Kirkland.
Terrence Truax, Jenner & Block’s managing partner, said the moves were “not unexpected” and the firm wishes the lawyers well.
Revenue at the growing, Chicago-based litigation powerhouse dropped 1.9 percent in 2017 to $448.7 million, while profits per partner tumbled nearly 19 percent to $1.4 million, according to early reporting for The American Lawyer’s Am Law 100 rankings.
Winston & Strawn’s revenue and profit figures for 2017 have not yet been reported.
Harris said in an interview that he made the decision to leave because “more than anything, Winston had a very compelling story about how our practice could grow in a way that it would be difficult to grow at Jenner.”
He said Winston & Strawn was a better match for his team’s practice working with mainly middle-market, privately-traded entities.
“We think it is correct that we as a firm are very focused on a high-end space,” Jenner’s Truax said.
“All of that movement of sought-after PE teams is representative of a global trend among many high performing law firms, and evidences the attractiveness of PE for many firms. It is a practice that is capable of commanding high rates, healthy margins and it frequently throws off work to other parts of the firm, sometimes involving the portfolio companies in which PE funds invest,” Zimmermann wrote in an email.
“All of those qualities are particularly helpful in a legal market experiencing uneven demand and significant downward rate pressure in many areas,” he added.
Along with Harris, the other six partners exiting Jenner & Block for Winston & Strawn’s corporate and tax practice include: Alan Roth, Olga Loy, Jason Osborn, Christopher Douglass, Kate Price and Kyle Gann. Their individual specialties include middle-market mergers and acquisitions, private equity, corporate, securities and venture finance, and closely and privately held businesses.