A group of lawyers suing BP PLC over its Gulf oil spill is moving instead to redirect dozens of its clients to make claims to the $20 billion fund set up by BP and the Obama administration.

While hundreds of people are still suing BP in federal court, the lawyers’ move could end up robbing that ongoing litigation of the critical mass of plaintiffs that might be needed to prove broad economic losses.

The move by the lawyers–about 30 altogether–represents the first significant crack in plaintiffs’ attorneys’ plans to reap significant court victories for hundreds of people affected by the spill triggered by the April explosion that sank BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig, killing 11 workers.

Those still representing clients in the federal litigation said they would continue. “It is not our job to pass judgment on how individual lawyers choose to handle their clients’ claims,” said Brian Barr, one of the lead attorneys in the litigation against BP.

For the fishermen, resort owners, hoteliers and others who say they were financially harmed by the Gulf disaster, settling means a quicker payout but a lost chance at earning damage payments.

For their attorneys, the move is a chance to eke out a bigger settlement that could serve as a lure for other plaintiffs to drop their lawsuits and hire them to settle claims.

For BP, settling all the claims could save money on attorneys’ fees and usher the matter out of the public eye rather than a lawsuit that lingers for years.

Read the complete Wall Street Journal story, “Oil-Spill Lawyers Urge Clients to Settle.”

Read more InsideCounsel and InsideCounsel.com stories about BP.