The Churn
(Illustration by Paul Dilakian)

SHAWN ATKINSON, a corporate partner with Edwards Wildman Palmer in London who cochaired its venture capital and cross-border M&A practice, has left the firm for Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe.

Orrick announced Atkinson’s hire on Friday as reports surfaced in the British legal press that Edwards Wildman’s London office was poised to lose a handful of corporate partners in a dispute over compensation. A bevy of suitors—including legal recruiters—are circling Edwards Wildman’s office in the city, which lost insurance partner FRANCIS MACKIE, who has joined British firm Weightmans.

Mackie left his role as cohead of the global insurance and reinsurance dispute practice at now-defunct Dewey & LeBoeuf to join predecessor firm Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge’s London office in 2010. Edwards Angell hired Atkinson that same year from Kirkland & Ellis, where he had been an associate. Atkinson subsequently built up his new firm’s private equity team, which recently took the lead advising a consortium selling telecommunications service provider GTS Central Europe to Deutsche Telekom.

European regulators approved the $729 million deal earlier this year and Deutsche Telekom closed on the transaction this month. Edwards Angell, which became Edwards Wildman following a late 2011 merger of its own, has been busy making acquisitions in recent weeks. This month the firm brought on a six-partner team from Patton Boggs in New York and Morristown, N.J., led by noted litigator James Tyrrell Jr., a former member of Patton Boggs’ executive committee and head of the firm’s toxic tort and product liability practice.

In May, Edwards Wildman launched a government relations and public policy practice by picking up four lobbyists from Boston-based Smith, Ruddock & Hayes. But as noted by The Am Law Daily, the new hires came at a tough time for Edwards Wildman, which slipped to the back end of The American Lawyer’s most recent Am Law 100 list as gross revenue fell 9.4 percent, to $311.5 million, while profits per partner remained flat at $680,000. The firm also announced in April that it would eliminate 42 administrative and 10 lawyer positions to cut costs.

Earlier this year, Edwards Wildman reportedly began a review of its associate pay scale in London. When contacted Friday by The Am Law Daily about its current situation in London, the firm was resolute that it would remain in the city where it has had roots going back to 1952.

“There is no truth to the reported rumor that we are looking to sell our London office,” said an Edwards Wildman spokeswoman in a statement. “In addition, the London office is not looking to leave for another firm. However, it is likely that a few partners in our London office will leave the firm between now and the end of the year. Some of the departures are unplanned, while others stem from the firm’s decision that there is simply not a good practice fit. We are committed to a strong London presence as a key part of our global platform.”

But Atkinson and Mackie aren’t the only Edwards Wildman partners to head elsewhere in recent weeks. LAWRENCE ROBINS, an IP partner in Boston who after a decade at Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner left the firm in 2012 for Edwards Wildman, decamped from the latter this week for Sullivan & Worcester.

GEORGE NEUNER, another Edwards Wildman IP partner in Boston, left the firm earlier this year to start his own shop. STEPHEN MACGILLIVRAY, a litigation partner in the firm’s Providence office, recently left Edwards Wildman for Maine’s Pierce Atwood, which expanded into Rhode Island through a merger late last year.

Some practice group leaders have also been on the move. Dentons hired Edwards Wildman’s former complex commercial litigation chair Patrick Gennardo (another Dewey alum) in January. In March, a trio of Edwards Wildman partners left the firm to launch their own estate-planning boutique, while gaming practice cochair Jesse Brody left the firm’s Los Angeles office to join Manatt, Phelps & Phillips. The Am Law Daily reported in May on the departure of labor and employment cochair Timothy Van Dyck for Boston’s Bowditch & Dewey and life sciences cochair Nathaniel Gardiner to become general counsel of firm client Enanta Pharmaceuticals.

Two other previously unreported departures who made partner at Edwards Wildman in 2012—Chicago litigator William Lee and Boston corporate lawyer Marc Mantell—both left the firm in February. Mantell is now a corporate partner at Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, while Lee became director of internal investigations in the office of ethics and compliance at pharmaceutical research company AbbVie, a spinoff from Abbott Laboratories.

Other firms that have raided Edwards Wildman in recent months include Baker & Hostetler, which took a five-lawyer IP team in Chicago in February, and Jones Day, which brought on private equity partner Louis Mercedes in April. Also leaving Edwards Wildman that month was trademark partner Perla Kuhn, who joined Fox Rothschild in New York, and real estate partner Marcia Owens, a former head of the firm’s women’s initiative, who joined Chicago’s Hamilton, Thies & Thorch.

Edwards Wildman has made other hires besides adding Tyrrell’s group in New Jersey and the lawyer-lobbyists from Ruddock Hayes in Boston. The firm brought on Taylor Wessing insurance partner James Crabtree in London in January, and Hogan Lovells restructuring partner Ira Greene in New York and corporate partner Man Chiu Lee in Hong Kong the following month, as noted by sibling publication The Asian Lawyer, as well as litigation partner Allison O’Neil in April from Boston’s Craig and Macauley. The Am Law Daily reported last month on Edwards Wildman’s hire of Thompson Coburn IP partner Kalpesh Shah in Chicago.

In other Churn news …

Alston & Bird has added real estate finance and investment counsel DAVID REVELT in Los Angeles from Solar Electric Solutions LLC, where he served as director of development. Revelt is also the owner of Antelope Valley Solar LLC, a solar power development company that specializes in wholesale distribution.

Arnold & Porter has hired financial services and regulatory enforcement partner MICHAEL MANCUSI from Kilpatick Townsend & Stockton in Washington, D.C. Mancusi, who represents domestic and foreign banks and credit unions on a range of regulatory matters, joined Kilpatrick’s financial institutions team in 2010 from Winston & Strawn.

Barnes & Thornburg made two notable hires this week, bringing on K&L Gates insurance and real estate litigation partner DAVID SCHACK in Los Angeles, as well as restructuring and insolvency partner CONNIE LAHN in Minneapolis from her role as chair of the bankruptcy group at Eden Prairie, Minn.-based Fafinski Mark & Johnson. Lahn represented unsecured creditors in Tom Petters’ $3.65 billion Ponzi scheme, according to the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal.

Bingham McCutchen hopes to ramp up its turnaround by bolstering its Beijing office through the hire of financial institutions partner FREDERICK CHANG, who joins the firm from FenXun Partners, a 30-lawyer local firm that sibling publication The Asian Lawyer reports he cofounded to help clients seeking to invest in China.

Dentons, the global legal giant that expanded into Houston late last year, has added to its outpost in the U.S. energy capital by adding Bracewell & Giuliani IP partner MICHAEL SAMARDZIJA, counsel HEATHER KHASSIAN and an associate. Samardzija, who was promoted from counsel to partner at Bracewell in 2011, advises clients in the life sciences and clean technology sectors. Khassian was senior counsel at Bracewell.

CAROLYN JOHNSEN, chair of the business restructuring and reorganization department at Jennings, Strouss & Salmon, has left the Phoenix-based firm to join Dickinson Wright as a bankruptcy partner in Phoenix. Dickinson Wright picked up 60 lawyers in the city last year through a merger, according to our previous reports.

GUANXI ZHENG is returning to Dorsey & Whitney as a corporate counsel in Seattle. Zheng left the firm in 2006, having been an associate and partner at Dorsey, to become general counsel for DAC Financial Management in Beijing and Hong Kong.

Husch Blackwell, which has recently been on an expansion kick, has watched partners CHARLES COWHERD, MIKE NICHOLS, GARY POWELL, JASON SMITH, RICHARD WALTERS and S. SHAWN WHITNEY leave the firm to launch a Springfield, Mo., office for Spencer Fane Britt & Browne. The latter firm, which like Husch is based in Kansas City, Mo., also opened an outpost in Colorado Springs by hiring former city attorney CHRISTOPHER MELCHER as of counsel. The Springfield News-Leader and Springfield Business Journal have more on Spencer Fane’s new hires.

Jackson Lewis has added labor and employment partner PAUL FRIEDMAN to its headquarters in White Plains, N.Y., from Epstein Becker & Green, a firm he rejoined in 2011 after leaving Blank Rome. Friedman previously served as head of Epstein Becker’s national ERISA litigation practice.

GAYLE BERNE, a former Dewey counsel who fled the firm before its collapse to join Morgan, Lewis & Bockius as counsel in 2012, has left the latter for Jones Day, where she will be a banking and finance counsel in the firm’s New York office.

K&L Gates has brought back former associate GINA BERTOLINI as a health care partner at its Research Triangle Park office in Morrisville, N.C. She joins the firm from the University of Michigan Health System, which hired her last year as an associate vice president and deputy general counsel from the University of North Carolina Health Care System.

Chicago’s Masuda, Funai, Eifert & Mitchell has hired Jenner & Block IP partner JOSEPH SALTIEL as a partner and vice chair of its IP technology practice. Saltiel, who made partner at Jenner in 2009, counsels clients on a wide range of litigation and IP matters.

SARAH TOPPI has left Holland & Knight’s Jacksonville office, where she was an attorney, to become a litigation of counsel in the local office of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough. While at Holland & Knight, Toppi also served a nine-month stint as a corporate litigation counsel with data analytics firm Black Knight Financial Services.

Norton Rose Fulbright has brought on health care and life sciences counsel BERNARD DUCO JR. in Houston and St. Louis from Memorial Hermann Health System, where he served as chief legal officer and took home more than $1 million in total compensation in 2012, according to a federal tax filing. Memorial Hermann is Houston’s largest nonprofit health care system.

Penguin Random House—the publishing giant formed via a $3.8 billion merger in late 2012—has hired Davis Wright Tremaine litigation partner CAROLYN FOLEY in New York to be vice president and associate general counsel for its publishing division. Like many at Davis Wright, Foley is well-versed in First Amendment and media issues.

Sidley Austin has snagged MARIA EARLEY, an attorney with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s office of enforcement, as counsel for its banking and financial services group in Washington, D.C. Earley, who joined the CFPB in 2011, had previously been an associate at Goodwin Procter and Shearman & Sterling.

Thousand Oaks, Calif.-based Teledyne Technologies has hired Winston & Strawn labor and employment partner ANNA SEGOBIA MASTERS in Los Angeles to become its new vice president of human resources and deputy general counsel. Masters is a litigator who frequently represents employers in state and federal courts, as well as arbitrations and mediations.

BRUCE MERWIN, a real estate and banking partner at Haynes and Boone in Houston, has taken his more than 36 years of experience to Thompson & Knight, where he’ll continue to work on complex real estate and construction transactions.

Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co., a Houston-based energy investment and merchant bank, has hired Baker Botts M&A partner PAUL PEREA to be managing director and general counsel. Perea spent more than 15 years at Baker Botts, where he advised such clients as the John Wood Group on the $2.8 billion sale of its well support unit to General Electric in 2011 and Teppco Partners on its $3.3 billion sale to Enterprise Products Partners in 2009.

Winstead, a Dallas-based firm that celebrated its 40th anniversary last year, has hired STEPHEN SEIDEL to serve as managing partner of its San Antonio office, according to sibling publication Texas Lawyer. Seidel is a former managing director of Cox Smith Matthews, but left that Texas firm in 2005 to serve as general counsel of medical technology company Kinetic Concepts. He left the latter in 2012 following its $6.3 billion sale to private equity firm Apax Partners—a soon-to-be-former part-owner of The Am Law Daily—and since then has done consulting work.

The Churn is compiled from law firm releases, announcements and news reports. Please send all announcements and news releases to