After leaving Kirkland & Ellis in June to fly her own flag, former partner Joanna Ritcey-Donohue has launched a new solo firm in Washington, JRD Law, providing cross-border risk and compliance advice.
Ritcey-Donohue said the timing was right to strike out on her own. She exited Kirkland as partner after more than seven years, following nearly 13 years as an associate at White & Case.
“You come to a place where you start thinking about, ‘Is this what I want to do for another decade or two decades?’” Ritcey-Donohue said. “The choice I made is to focus on many fewer clients and do concierge-level service for those clients.”
She declined to identify specific clients due to the nature of her practice, but said she represents publicly traded technology companies based in the U.S., and portfolio companies of venture capital and other investors. Her specialty is matters involving complex cross-border risk, corporate governance and compliance counseling.
She said she began seriously thinking about going it alone a year ago and started fleshing out the idea in conversations with friends, colleagues and former classmates from Georgetown University Law Center. The idea gained momentum, she said, and she began determining how to execute her plan. She said she gave Kirkland notice of her departure a month or so in advance and left on good terms at the end of June.
Ritcey-Donohue said she chose not to recruit others to her practice because she didn’t want operating a business to divert her attention from her legal work. Leaving Kirkland would give her far greater flexibility on pricing, she said.
Along with being able to capitalize on her experience and contacts across Kirkland’s global offices, she said her knowledge of expert outside resources provides an advantage for her clients.
Ritcey-Donohue described her solo practice as “almost like being an in-house counsel on your specialty area,” and said watching others break away from Big Law over the years helped her understand how to craft the “bespoke” boutique she wanted.
After her self-imposed summer sabbatical, she formally opened up JRD Law last month.