(Photo: J. Albert Diaz/ALM)
San Francisco-based Sedgwick has lost its Washington, D.C., office, after its last two partners, Barbara Werther and David Mancini, moved to Troutman Sanders with one associate this week.
Their move follows several months of Sedgwick partners defecting to other firms.
Sedgwick’s chairman told Law360 last week that the office would close for “cost efficiencies.” At this point, Sedgwick lists just one remaining lawyer in Washington: David Dorsen, a litigator, biographer and friend of the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Dorsen is of counsel at Sedgwick. He is in his 80s.
Dorsen could not be reached for comment Tuesday, and Sedgwick’s chairman and other top professional staff members did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Meanwhile, Werther and Mancini rejoin their former Sedgwick partner James Diwik, who left Sedgwick for Troutman Sanders in June and is based in San Francisco.
“Their arrival is another step in the firm’s overall growth strategy of cultivating lawyers whose practices enhance our established teams,” Todd Coles, Troutman Sanders’ Washington office managing partner, said in a firm statement Tuesday. “They will be instrumental in continuing to build our East Coast construction base.”
Werther, who was Sedgwick’s construction and government contracts practice head and a co-founder of the Women in Construction Conference, said in an interview that all of her group’s clients would move to Sedgwick. Though she declined to name any, she said she represents most major real estate developers working on projects in Washington, D.C.
Werther has a long history in the construction field. She had been a partner at Thelen until it dissolved in 2008, then at Howrey nearly until its 2011 demise. Before Sedgwick, she was a shareholder at Baltimore-based Ober Kaler, which merged with Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz this January. Mancini charted a similar path firm-to-firm.
For much of her career, Werther represented contractors in real estate construction litigation. In 2014 she inherited a retiring colleague’s real estate negotiations practice and began to represent developers.
“I thought we could do a Vulcan mind meld in one day—there was no way I could learn what she knew in years of practice in one day. But I’m a quick study and picked it up,” Werther said. “I’m very, very fortunate I have some amazing clients, but I also have good relationships with the contractors with whom they’re working.”
She declined to speak about the reason she and Mancini left Sedgwick.
“We decided this was the best place for us to go to,” Werther said. “This is a lovely firm with a beautiful construction footprint nationally.” Troutman Sanders has more than 50 lawyers based in D.C., including about two dozen partners.
Other lateral departures this year from San Francisco-based Sedgwick include nine partners who split to open Drinker Biddle & Reath’s Dallas office in January; six partners from the Newark, New Jersey, office who opened a boutique; two litigation partners who moved to Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo in Los Angeles; and two class action products liability partners who moved to Crowell & Moring in Washington in June. One of those Crowell partners, Richard Wallace Jr., founded Sedgwick’s D.C. office in 2011.
Most recently, a female partner, Traci Ribeiro, left the firm after she settled with Sedgwick on a gender discrimination complaint.