David Boies (Photo: Rick Kopstein/ALM)
Almost a year after absorbing New York-based litigation boutique O’Shea Partners, the newly-minted Boies Schiller Flexner announced Monday that it would absorb 26 lawyers from Los Angeles-based litigation firm Caldwell Leslie & Proctor.
The move comes amid a restructuring at Boies Schiller that has resulted in several partners leaving the firm as it re-focuses itself on high-end litigation work. Jarrett Hoffman, a Boies Schiller partner in New York and head of the firm’s executive compensation and benefits practice, left the firm last week to become counsel at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison in New York.
As the remainder of its corporate practice departs—Christopher Boies, the head of the group and a son of founding partner David Boies, is poised to join a client—Boies Schiller’s elder statesman is excited about the new team coming aboard in Southern California.
“It’s a very good mix,” chairman David Boies said Monday. “If you compared their background, experience, quality, trial orientation and collegiality to the lawyers in one of our other offices, you’d see an almost perfect match.”
Boies Schiller had been looking for some time to establish a larger presence in the Los Angeles market, where the firm currently has 10 lawyers—four of them partners—in Santa Monica, California. Boies said his firm had looked at a half-dozen smaller litigation boutiques over the years, but that when discussions began in December with Caldwell Leslie, both firms quickly saw synergies for certain clients—such as broadcasting giant CBS Corp.—that would meld seamlessly with the combined firm’s renewed litigation focus.
“We thought from the beginning that it would be a great fit,” Boies said.
Caldwell Leslie, a 27-lawyer boutique that handles entertainment and media, employment, environmental, internal investigations and white-collar defense work, is hoping to capitalize on Boies Schiller’s national and global platform to service its clients and build out Boies Schiller’s base in Southern California. (One lawyer at Caldwell Leslie is taking an environmental role with the State of California and not joining Boies Schiller.)
Christopher Caldwell (pictured right), a founding partner at Caldwell Leslie, will become the administrative partner for Boies Schiller’s new office in Los Angeles’ financial district. The firm will keep that office in addition to its current outpost in Santa Monica.
“We thought it was an incredible opportunity for us,” said Caldwell, whose firm has been involved in high-profile disputes involving the rapper Rick Ross, Squire Patton Boggs and Venable. “As we continued with our discussions, we realized that we just had a lot in common.”
Since it was formed in 1988, Caldwell Leslie had always been a litigation boutique. Caldwell said his Los Angeles-based shop was attracted to Boies Schiller by the latter’s reputation and renewed concentration on its litigation practice. His firm did not use a legal recruiter or consultant when making their decision to join Boies Schiller.
Following the recent departures of a corporate team in New York to Paul Hastings and another group to Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman in Miami, Boies Schiller has said that it intends to get out of doing corporate work—something that traditionally accounted for about 10 percent of its bottom line—in order to concentrate on litigation.
Hoffman, who declined Monday to discuss his recent move to Paul Weiss, is merely the latest member of Boies Schiller’s corporate team to find a new home. He initially joined the firm in August 2015 after nearly seven years as an associate at Cravath, Swaine & Moore.
In March, Boies Schiller brought on Travis LeBlanc as a partner in Palo Alto, California. LeBlanc, a former chief of the enforcement bureau at the Federal Communications Commission, joined Boies Schiller just a few weeks after the firm added Ann O’Leary, a former senior policy adviser to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, as a partner in Silicon Valley. In New York, Boies Schiller brought back former partner Lee Wolosky after he served an 18-month stint as the Obama administration’s envoy for the closure of a detention facility in Guatanamo Bay.
And having already bolted on several other small firms over the years, Boies Schiller is keen on following up its acquisition of Caldwell Leslie with other expansion opportunities, especially in California, where two of the firm’s founders control a film finance vehicle.
“One of the things that I have been happiest about is the fact that we have gone from a litigation boutique ourselves to more than 300 trial lawyers and we’ve maintained the consistent quality,” said Boies of his firm, which he formed in 1997 after leaving Cravath.
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