Quinn chief hits out at departing partner over 'stealthy' exit and 'saccharine' farewell email
Managing partner cites deception and ingratitude in reply-all email to star litigator he says was paid "well over $100m"
How upset was John Quinn, the managing partner of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, when New York partners Faith Gay and Philippe Selendy left this month to launch their own firm?
The firm’s pre-emptive press release on their departures was one sign that the split was not particularly amicable. But a reply-all email that Quinn sent Gay this week – responding to her farewell message to the firm – spells out his feelings more clearly.
“Faith, I wish I could join in the high-minded sentiment you express here. Some day maybe I will be able to. But not yet. At this time I am still perhaps too mindful of other facts,” Quinn wrote. ”Such as that you really were not very well known at all when you joined us from White & Case. That during your time with us we supported you in every way we could and, I think, made you a legal star. That during your time with us you were paid well over $100m – far more than you ever dreamed you could earn.”
Quinn also accused Gay of secretly plotting her departure for months, ending his message with a retort to a poem that Gay had cited in her departure memo.
“You are now planning to take as much of our work as possible. And to recruit as many of our attorneys as possible. I can tell you that virtually all of the attorneys you name here are pretty angry with you,” Quinn wrote. “There must be a poem about deception or ingratitude that would be more apposite?”
Gay (pictured right), who formally launched Selendy & Gay with Selendy and other Quinn Emanuel lawyers last Thursday (15 February), was not immediately available to comment.
“Yes, I wrote that and it’s all true. I wrote it in response to a lengthy saccharine email that Faith sent to all personnel the night before her departure,” Quinn said in an email on Friday (16 February). “I was less disappointed, actually, in the fact that she and others were leaving than in the stealthy way it was done, which was at odds with the close relationship we thought we had and which she professed to still have in her email. And yes, I was irritated by her email. In the meantime, our New York practice is booming.”
When asked if he felt similarly stung by Selendy, Quinn again cited Gay’s “over the top” email. “I replied to that email, in reaction to that particular email,” he said. “Others wrote goodbye emails, but they weren’t similar at all, weren’t irritating and didn’t motivate me to respond.”
The dust-up comes after the firm in January announced that Gay, the former co-chair of the firm’s national trial practice, and Selendy, a star litigator and former head of Quinn Emanuel’s securities and structured finance group, would be leaving with a group of colleagues to start their own law firm.
Quinn said in a statement at the time that he and others at the firm respected “our valued colleagues’ decision to take their practice to a smaller platform” and didn’t believe the partner losses would affect the firm’s success in any significant way.
“Our firm has never been stronger and has never had a deeper bench of veteran and next-generation talent,” Quinn said in the January statement.
Selendy and Gay remained mostly quiet in the press afterward, before finally detailing their plans this week in connection with the formal launch on 15 February of Selendy & Gay.
In an interview shortly before the launch, Gay and Selendy told The American Lawyer that their departure wasn’t a matter of dissatisfaction with Quinn Emanuel.
“It really has everything to do with wanting to be masters of our own fate,” Gay said at the time. “It’s us wanting to create a new kind of law firm, nothing about any displeasure.”
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