McDermott Will & Emery's Washington, D.C. offices. November 3, 2014.
McDermott Will & Emery’s Washington, D.C. offices. November 3, 2014. (Photo by Diego M. Radzinschi)

David Rogers, the leader of McDermott Will & Emery’s employee benefits practice and a recent nominee to take over as chair of the firm, is leaving with a group of nine other lawyers to join Winston & Strawn, Bloomberg Big Law Business first reported Friday.

A McDermott spokeswoman confirmed that Rogers and nine other employee benefit lawyers were leaving the firm. A Winston & Strawn spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Washington, D.C.,-based Rogers was a member of McDermott’s management and executive committees. In September, Rogers was one of five McDermott partners on the slate in a contested election to take over as chairman when former firm co-chairs Jeffrey Stone and Peter Sacripanti stepped down.

Ira Coleman, a Miami-based partner who ultimately won the election, wished the departing lawyers well in a provided statement.

“We’re excited about the future of our employee benefits practice under its new leadership,” Coleman said. “McDermott looks forward to formally announcing the new leadership team in the coming days.”

Rogers (pictured right) is the second partner who competed for the chair position to leave the firm. Lazar Raynal, a Chicago-based partner who led the firm’s litigation group, joined Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan in March.

Last summer, McDermott made a number of hires into its employee benefits group, including Kerry Scanlon, who was co-chair of Kaye Scholer’s labor and employment group before being tapped to lead the practice at McDermott. Last year McDermott also added a Chicago-based employee benefits and executive compensation partner, Erin Kartheiser, who joined from Winston & Strawn.

While Rogers is based in the nation’s capital, the competition between McDermott and Winston & Strawn is familiar, with both firms having a long history in Chicago.

McDermott is a larger firm by head count and top-line revenue figure, with its 977 lawyers bringing in $908.5 million in gross revenue last year, a slight increase from the year prior and putting it at No. 36 in the Am Law 100 rankings. Winston & Strawn was No. 41 on that list, with $823 million in gross revenue last year, although the 798-lawyer firm topped McDermott in both profits per partner ($1.825 million over $1.6 million) and revenue per lawyer ($1.03 million over $930,000).

This week McDermott landed Roy Larson, a former managing partner of Baker McKenzie’s Miami office, as a health care transactional partner in the same city, where last month McDermott brought back former partner Michael Austin from DLA Piper, where he served as head of the latter’s Miami health care litigation practice and its local hiring partner.

McDermott also recently added Stroock & Stroock & Lavan special counsel Armando Ramirez as a corporate and private equity partner in New York, while welcoming aboard Linklaters counsel Daniel von Brevern as an antitrust and competition partner in Düsseldorf.

But Steven Spears, an intellectual property litigation partner with McDermott in Houston, decamped this week for Baker & Hostetler. Terry Ahearn, another IP litigator with McDermott in Silicon Valley, left the firm last month to join Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie. And Michael Best & Friedrich recently hired McDermott partner Michael Graham in Chicago to chair its ERISA litigation practice.