Robert Leung
Robert Leung (DavidBeyda.COM 212-967-6964)

Paul Hastings is poised to hire the bulk of Boies Schiller Flexner’s corporate lawyers in New York as the group looks to expand its practice.

“I think this was a very successful move,” firm chairman David Boies said Tuesday. “It enables the corporate group to better serve their clients and I think they’ll continue to expand and grow with a corporate platform that has a greater scope and scale. At the same time, it will enable the firm to concentrate on its litigation practice, which has always been [its] core.”

The corporate group’s decision to leave the firm comes after a year of deliberation by Boies Schiller on the best road to take for the practice, which in its 15 years at the firm has traditionally accounted for about 10 percent of annual gross revenue, Boies said. While there will still be corporate aspects to some of Boies Schiller’s work, Boies anticipates that in the coming year his firm will seek to expand its formidable litigation capacity.

“The firm’s center of gravity has always been litigation,” Boies said.

Boies Schiller, which in 2013 expanded outside the U.S. for the first time by opening an office in London, absorbed New York-based litigation boutique O’Shea Partners nearly a year ago. So far this year Boies Schiller has dropped the ampersand from its name and been busy hiring former Obama administration litigators.

Those lawyers preparing to leave the firm for Paul Hastings specialize in M&A, private equity and cross-border transactions, particularly in Latin America. The group was looking to join a firm that is synergistic with its own practice, and last year held discussions with several firms.

Two months ago the Boies Schiller lawyers preparing to depart retained Laura Corrao, Robin Miller and Lauren Wiesenthal—name partners at New York-based recruiting firm Corrao Miller Wiesenthal Legal Search Consultants Inc.—to help refine their search. Within five weeks, Paul Hastings emerged as the leading candidate to acquire the group, something that Boies Schiller partner Robert Leung attributes, in part, to his new firm’s strong energy practice in Houston, as well as its sports, media, entertainment and technology capacity in California.

“We decided that we needed to really grow to a much large critical mass and to have a bigger platform with much broader transactional capabilities to compete in this ever competitive marketplace,” Leung said. “So we’re definitely excited at the new challenges and the opportunity to work with all the folks at Paul Hastings [and] to continue what we have been doing.”

The group, which includes Leung and fellow Boies Schiller corporate partners Mike Huang, Stefan dePozsgay, Jason Hill and Russell Franklin, as well as a handful of associates, will join Paul Hastings’ corporate practice in New York.

“The addition of this exceptional team reflects increasing client demand for help with large and complex cross-border deals and capital flows,” said a statement by Paul Hastings chair Seth Zachary confirming the hires.

Christopher Boies, a son of David Boies and head of Boies Schiller’s corporate group, will not join Paul Hastings. David Boies said that his son will leave the firm to join a client that he did not identify. Chris Boies, who previously worked at Sullivan & Cromwell and Credit Suisse First Boston, co-owns California’s Hawk and Horse Vineyards with his father. He did not return a request for comment about where he will work after leaving Boies Schiller. (Chris Boies has a close relationship with Caithness Energy LLC, a New York-based power producer that has frequently turned to Boies Schiller’s corporate group for counsel.)

In an interview last week with Forbes.com, Boies Schiller co-founder and managing partner Jonathan Schiller said that the firm, known for its litigation and arbitration work, was looking to move away from corporate matters.

“We haven’t really made an effort to grow that business, which is successful but small—it’s always been less than 10% of our budget,” Schiller said. “And I see us winding down that business line going forward.”

Leung, who joined Boies Schiller in 2002 after eight years as an associate at Sullivan & Cromwell, said that most of those in the corporate group wanted to continue working with one another.

“What we decided as a group was that we really wanted to stick together and look for a place that we can continue to grow together,” Leung said. “We went through a process and were lucky enough to have good alternatives. At the end of the day, I think it was pretty unanimous and a strong consensus that Paul Hastings was the right place.”

Paul Hastings, which saw a three-partner finance team in New York leave the firm last month for Allen & Overy, also watched its North American project finance leader Tim Callahan announce his departure Tuesday from the firm’s Chicago office. Callahan is joining McGuireWoods’ project finance and development team in the Windy City.

But last year Paul Hastings hired a high-powered M&A team from Shearman & Sterling in San Francisco, a region and practice area that firm leader Zachary cited in his statement as one of several strategic investments that Paul Hastings is making. (Technology, telecommunications, life sciences, energy, media and entertainment are industries that Paul Hastings is keen on growing its expertise across several practice areas.)

As for Boies Schiller, the firm saw six corporate lawyers leave in South Florida last month to start a Miami office for Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman. Covington & Burling also recently hired Boies Schiller transactional tax partner Ansgar Simon as of counsel in New York.

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