Following the exodus of Sedgwick’s Dallas office earlier this year, the San Francisco-based firm has lost at least eight more partners within the past few weeks to Am Law 100 rivals in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. As a result of the turnover, Sedgwick has shed some staffers.
The latest partners to leave Sedgwick are Rafael “Ralph” Campillo and Arameh Zargham O’Boyle, both formerly litigation partners in the firm’s Los Angeles office, who Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, announced Tuesday it had hired along with two associates.
Earlier this month, Richard Wallace Jr. left Sedgwick in the nation’s capital, nearly six years after Sedgwick acquired his 14-lawyer firm, Wallace Partners. Wallace, a trial lawyer who handles class action product liability and environmental matters, joined Crowell & Moring along with partner Peter Condron.
Four other partners have recently left the firm in California. James Diwik, a well-known construction lawyer and former head of Sedgwick’s surety and bankruptcy practice in Northern California, left for Troutman Sanders in San Francisco. Nicholas Boos, who represents insurers in litigation, fled to Alabama’s Maynard, Cooper & Gale, which opened in the Bay Area two years ago.
Earlier this month, product liability and mass tort litigator Philip Cosgrove left Sedgwick’s Los Angeles office for Hawkins Parnell Thackston & Young. And in late May, Shartsis Friese snagged Sedgwick’s former antitrust chair Paul Riehle to co-chair its class action task force in San Francisco.
One source within Sedgwick said the firm last week laid off an unspecified number of staff as a result of recent partner departures, noting that the lawyers leaving the firm took significant clients with them. The source said the loss of the Dallas office, coupled with lawyers departing from the New Jersey office earlier this year, comprised 20 percent of Sedgwick’s gross revenue.
Sedgwick, which has seen its finances clip in recent years, booked $170.5 million gross revenue for 2016. That put that firm at No. 157 in The American Lawyer’s annual Am Law 200 rankings. Sedgwick also listed 273 lawyers at the end of 2016, and data compiled by ALM Intelligence currently puts the firm’s head count at 233, which is about a 17 percent decline from the previous year.
In a statement, Sedgwick’s chairman Michael Healy confirmed the reductions in force, attributing the decision to a changing market for legal services.
“As the legal landscape has become more global, the requirements of our clients have become more complex and diversified,” he said. “This globalization has led to the departures of lawyers, and Sedgwick has experienced some of those departures. Sedgwick has also brought additional attorney groups on board in 2017 that align with our strategic growth initiative. We have had some staff departures which have helped us to right size the firm to allow us to increase our efficiencies and better compete in the market.”
Sedgwick also faced a high-profile gender bias class action suit filed by nonequity insurance partner Traci Ribeiro in Chicago. The litigation, which was sent to arbitration, quietly settled in April.
For Mintz Levin, the addition of Sedgwick’s Campillo and O’Boyle is aimed at bolstering the firm’s capability to provide products liability services to the firm’s existing life sciences and medical device clients, said Mintz Levin’s managing partner Robert Bodian.
Campillo has tried nearly 100 cases to verdict. Two Sedgwick associates, Christopher Norton and Nicholas Weiss, are also poised to join Mintz Levin. The Boston-based Am Law 100 firm has also been adding to its litigation bench, picking up a pair of partners from Herrick, Feinstein in New York, where Mintz Levin brought back former associate C. Anthony Mulrain, most recently chair of the national sports, media and entertainment practice at Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani.
Bodian said his firm is focused on growing its offices in Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco, where Mintz Levin last week landed former Jones Day and Latham & Watkins partner Greg Chin. Mintz Levin has added three partners in San Francisco in the past six months, Bodian said. With the firm’s latest additions in Los Angeles, it will now have 10 lawyers in the city.
Mintz Levin outperformed an early gross revenue estimate it submitted for inclusion in the Am Law 100 by about $4 million, ending its fiscal 2016 with $376.3 million, Bodian said. That’s about 4.5 percent higher than what the firm earned in 2015. Profits per partner at Mintz Levin also rose 10.3 percent last year, to $1.175 million.
That financial success has been partly the result of better collaboration among the firm’s lawyers, Bodian said, noting that 35 percent of clients last year used the firm for three or more practice areas. That figure was 20 percent two years ago, he said.
“We’re doing more for our clients, so we’re getting deeper into our clients’ business and our representation is less of a one-off business and more of a relationship,” Bodian said.
Crowell & Moring, which earlier this month hired Sedgwick’s Wallace and Condron, also saw its gross revenue and partner profits rise in 2016. The Washington, D.C.-based firm broke off merger talks with Herrick in April.
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