After enduring a leadership vacuum for more than a year, the New York office of Patton Boggs finally has a new lawyer at the helm.
The Washington, D.C.–based firm announced Tuesday that John Nonna—a Dewey & LeBoeuf defector who joined Patton Boggs as part of a four-lawyer group last April—is taking on the role of New York managing partner. In moving into the leadership post, Nonna is filling a vacancy that opened up in January 2012 when the office’s previous leader, Richard Andersen, left for Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr.
Nonna’s appointment comes less than a month after the 485-lawyer firm, which is known primarily for its lobbying and litigation work, acknowledged that it had laid off a total of 30 lawyers and 35 other employees across several of its offices. As sibling publication The Blog of Legal Times reported at the time, the firm also said it had asked about 18 partners viewed as poor performers to leave before year-end. Nonna says that two litigation associates and four staff members in the New York office were among those who lost their jobs.
Nonna says he sees his goals in his new role as threefold: To help Patton Boggs’s New York lawyers develop clients and bring in more work; to find key lateral hires, particularly in transactional practices such as corporate finance and private equity; and to cross-sell the office’s services to the rest of the firm.
"New York is a competitive market," Nonna says of the push to hire laterals. "It’ll be a real challenge." Asked whether the 20-lawyer New York office will lose partners amid the cutbacks, Nonna says he hopes not. "My plan is to help all partners in New York be successful and stay at the firm."
Nonna says he was asked to take over the local leadership role two weeks ago by Patton Boggs managing partner Edward Newberry. Litigator James Tyrrell, who is currently leading the firm’s efforts to enforce a $19 billion Ecuadorian judgment against Chevron related to environmental pollution in the Amazon, will continue to serve as regional managing partner for the firm’s offices in New York and New Jersey. It was not clear Tuesday why the firm had not named a New York managing partner prior to Tuesday.
Tyrrell founded Patton Boggs’s New Jersey office in 2006 when he and 30 other lawyers joined the firm from Latham & Watkins, which finally shuttered its Newark outpost last June after failing to recover from the losses. The Garden State outpost was the Patton Boggs location hit hardest in this month’s layoffs, according to The Blog of Legal Times‘s report on the cuts. The firm also founded its New York office in 2006.
As Legal Times reported, the layoffs come on the heels of a year that saw the firm’s gross revenue fall 6.3 percent, to $318 million, and its profits per partner drop 14.9 percent, to $736,000. Newberry said at the time the cuts saved the firm $14.7 million.
Nonna, 64, says he will continue to maintain his insurance and commercial litigation practice, which he says arrived from Dewey largely intact last year. "With Dewey going out of business, there wasn’t really a question of fighting for clients," he says. Since his former firm collapsed last May, Nonna has stayed active in the firm’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy by serving on a steering committee of 58 former partners, he says, a group that helped negotiate a partner settlement plan with the debtor. According to court filings, Nonna has agreed to contribute $96,462 to the Dewey estate as part of the $71.5 million settlement in exchange for a release from most Dewey-related liability.
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