Four litigation partners have jumped from Reed Smith to King & Spalding, including John Hooper, who has overseen strategy for high-profile mass tort and products liability cases and was co-head of Reed Smith’s complex litigation group.
The New York-based group, including Hooper, Kelly D’Auria, Eric Gladbach and Jacqueline Seidel, joined King & Spalding in the last week as partners in its tort and environmental practice. They have practiced together between 10 and 20 years.
Hooper has worked on some of the most high-profile litigation matters in the last decade. He has served as the strategic counsel and lead negotiator for Toyota’s Takata MDL air bag litigation; co-lead negotiator for the Toyota unintended acceleration cases; served as co-national counsel for C.R. Bard in hernia mesh mass tort MDL litigation; handled Reebok EasyTone litigation involving deceptive advertising claims; and served as national counsel for MassMutual in vanishing premium cases.
The group’s clients, including Toyota, are expected to move to King & Spalding. “The vast majority of the work we are handling for clients we are still handling on a going-forward basis,” Hooper said in an interview. He declined to comment on whether other attorneys may follow the partners to King & Spalding.
When Hooper moved to Reed Smith about nine and a half years ago from Locke Lord legacy firm Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge, a group of associates and paralegals joined him. Hooper previously practiced at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.
Hooper said he became very familiar with King & Spalding litigators when they were co-counsel for Toyota on the unintended acceleration and Takata air bag litigation. “We were on a virtual law firm team for Toyota for a number of years,” he said.
A strong motivation for his move was King & Spalding’s talent in trial, government advocacy, regulatory and class action practices, which he said would present an opportunity to grow his group’s practice.
Hooper said the litigation he handles goes beyond the courtroom, requiring companies to look at developments in regulatory agencies, Congress, state attorney general offices and the media.
“They are really one of the go-to firms in the areas I practice,” he said, adding that King & Spalding’s practices “dovetail really well with the strategic advice I give clients on how to handle and defend their most serious, bet-the-company litigation and viral litigation.”
Hooper said leaving Reed Smith was “the most difficult business decision” he has made. “I leave behind strong relationships. I think the firm is very solid,” he said.
In a statement, Casey Ryan, global head of legal personnel at Reed Smith, said, “The reality in Big Law is that lawyers move from time to time; we wish John and the team well in their next endeavor.”
Meanwhile, the departure of Jacqui Hatfield, head of the financial services regulatory practice in London at Reed Smith, was also announced Monday. She will join Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe later this year.
Last year, Reed Smith held profits per partner steady around $1.11 million, while gross revenue was $1.075 billion.
King & Spalding’s profits per equity partner declined slightly to $2.47 million, while gross revenue rose to $1.057 billion.
While both law firms have seen some partner exits this year, they are each on a hiring streak.
King & Spalding this month brought on two IP litigation partners from Stroock & Stroock & Lavan, and the firm added James Woolery, former head of Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, in May. Reed Smith in January confirmed its hire of 17 partners from King & Wood Mallesons (KWM) across London, Paris and Germany. Also, this year the firm opened a Miami office and hired two lawyers from Dentons for a new space and aviation practice.