Three months after Debevoise & Plimpton management informed its partners it would no longer be handling private client work, a seven-lawyer trusts and estates team led by partner Jonathan Rikoon has found a new home. Loeb & Loeb announced on March 18 that the group led by Rikoon and partner Cristine Sapers, now counsel at Debevoise, will join the firm’s New York office next month. Also making the move are senior counsel Liora Brener and four associates.
The move is part of a broader trend that has seen some top-tier firms shedding trusts and estates practices that tend to be more top-heavy and difficult to leverage. Rikoon said that as time passed, he and his group were particularly out of sync with Debevoise’s lockstep culture. Rikoon, 57, said he was paid the same as others with comparable seniority and had to charge rates of more than $1,000 per hour, even if doing so didn’t always fit with his practice. And though private client work sometimes leads to referrals for deal work and other matters, Rikoon said Debevoise’s focus on $1 billion-plus transactional assignments made such referrals unattractive. Loeb, by contrast, is "eager" to take in such ancillary work, he said. At Loeb, he added, his group will also charge rates 15 percent to 20 percent lower than they do now.
As of April 15, Rikoon and his group will join a 45-lawyer trusts and estates team at Loeb that is spread across the offices in Los Angeles, New York, and Washington, D.C., said Bruce Wexler, Loeb’s New York-based practice group leader. "Trusts and estates is a core practice of the firm," he said. "It’s an area we identified years ago as something we wanted to focus on, and it’s just been a fabulous area for us."