Four lawyers, citing client conflict, left Gardere Wynne Sewell for Polsinelli on the eve of Gardere’s merger with Foley & Lardner.

Joyce Mazero said she, Len MacPhee and Jess Dance joined Polsinelli as partners, and William Sentell joined as counsel, on March 29, shortly before Dallas-based Gardere merged with Foley & Lardner on April 1. Mazero is splitting her time between Polsinelli’s Dallas and Denver offices and MacPhee, Dance and Sentell joined Polsinelli’s Denver office. They were all members of Gardere’s global franchise and supply network practice.

Joyce Mazero

Mazero and MacPhee, who are co-chairs of the new practice area at Polsinelli, have decades of experience doing work for product and services companies in the food, beverage, manufacturing and retail industries. The group does transactional and litigation work for their clients, Mazero said.

“There’s really no drama here. The Gardere/Foley merger was proceeding forward and our group became aware that we had a very good client that was going to have a client conflict with a good client at Foley. It was not going to be resolved,” Mazero said.

Mazero declined to identify the client that would have run into a conflict at the newly merged Foley Gardere, but she said her clients include Ruby Tuesday, c, Darden Restaurants, Tempur-Sealy International, Interstate Batteries and Jamba Juice.

Jennifer Evans, managing partner of Polsinelli’s Denver office, said in a statement that Mazero and MacPhee have top reputations in franchising, distribution and supply chain law, and are proven leaders.

A client conflict also prompted two intellectual property lawyers to leave Gardere as it merged with Foley this month. On April 1, Andy Szuwalski and Jeremy Berman joined Oklahoma City-based Crowe & Dunlevy in its new Dallas office. Other groups also left Gardere around the time of the merger, including 14 who joined Husch Blackwell’s offices in Texas, and a group of six real estate lawyers who moved to Jackson Walker‘s Dallas office.

Mazero said that once her group realized the conflict would not be resolved, they reached out to five or six firms. She said she determined that Polsinelli was not only welcoming, but had offices in Dallas and Denver, and is a firm with growth in mind and a supportive culture.

She said the process of finding a new firm occurred “very recently” and rapidly because they had fully intended to stay at Gardere following the merger until the conflict arose. “We have enjoyed our experience at Gardere,” she said.

Mazero, MacPhee and Dance joined Gardere in January 2016, coming from Perkins Coie, and Gardere opened its Denver office at the same time.

“Polsinelli just met all of our requirements. It’s kind of exhilarating to be part of a firm that’s growing really, really fast,” she said. Polsinelli grew by 3.3 percent in 2017, according to early reports for the AmLaw 100.

Mazero said she expects Polsinelli to soon hire two more laterals for the group, one in Dallas and one in Denver, from other firms.

Holly O’Neill, former chair of Gardere and a member of the Foley Gardere management committee, said in a statement that she is disappointed to see valued colleagues leave but respects their decision and wishes them well.” At the same time, we remain confident this combination will position us as an attractive destination for future lateral hires,” she said.

The combined firm is known as Foley Gardere in Texas, Foley Gardere Arena in Mexico City and Foley & Lardner elsewhere.