Photo by Diego M. Radzinschi/ALM

The new year has brought a host of personnel changes for Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, including the departure of one of the firm’s original founding partners.

Name partner Eric Emanuel, based in Los Angeles, has retired from Quinn Emanuel, leaving John Quinn as the last of the original founders to continue practicing at the firm.

Eric Emanuel

Eric Emanuel retired Dec. 31, said co-founder Quinn, adding he was retiring to spend more time with family and other non-legal pursuits.

Emanuel co-founded the firm with Quinn in 1986, joined by Phyllis Kupferstein and David Quinto. While Quinto and Kupferstein eventually left, Emanuel stayed on with Quinn at the firm for 32 years.

Quinn became the outspoken managing partner. Emanuel developed a less public profile but continued to try complex cases. According to his former firm profile, Emanuel litigated a wide range of cases, including securities, intellectual property, fiduciary duties, real property, unfair competition and torts.

In more recent years, his profile said, Emanuel devoted a greater percentage of his time to training, and he developed a “sensei office” where he advised younger lawyers on legal problems and consulted with colleagues on strategy and tactics. A substantial part of his practice was reviewing and editing briefs by others, according to his former profile.

“For many years and for many people, Eric has been a wonderful mentor. Thanks to him for all he has done for the firm and our clients. We will miss him,” Quinn said in an email. Emanuel did not provide a comment on his departure by press time.

The firm won’t change its name, Quinn said. Name partners William Urquhart, who joined in 1988, and Kathleen Sullivan, who joined in 2005, remain there.

In a 2006 American Lawyer profile of the firm, Emanuel described the experience founding the firm. The partners didn’t withhold enough for their income taxes the first year, and Emanuel had to get a cash advance from his credit card to pay the government. “We were very naive,” Emanuel said.

Now Quinn Emanuel has about 22 offices on four continents, with 800 attorneys generating more than $1 billion in annual revenue.

Emanuel’s retirement is a marked contrast with Quinn, who continues to preside over the firm as managing partner and makes central decisions in recruiting, partner pay, conflicts and billing. Last year, he told ALM he has no retirement or succession plans. “When I have any partner over the age of 50 who can beat me in a foot race in any distance, then we will start looking at succession planning,” he said.

Quinn has stuck to his commitment to continue growing the firm, despite some prominent partner departures last year.

The firm just landed a top recruit from the U.S. Department of Justice, Sandra Moser, who was acting chief of the criminal division’s fraud section.

In recent months, the firm hired as partners Colleen Tracy James, who joined from Mayer Brown, and Tomislav Joksimovic, who was most recently global head of litigation and investigations at EFG International in Zurich.

Meanwhile, Manisha Sheth, who has lead the economic justice division of the New York state attorney general’s office, will return to Quinn Emanuel as a partner in March.

Quinn said there are more arrivals to come, adding the firm is hiring attorneys in bankruptcy and restructuring, patent and white-collar defense.

“We are always talking to people,” he said Tuesday in an email. “We are probably talking to a dozen people right now.”

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