Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan is losing a group of lawyers, led by top litigators Philippe Selendy and Faith Gay, who are joining with a group of colleagues to split off and start their own law firm.
Quinn Emanuel announced the split on Thursday, issuing a statement that explained Selendy and Gay have advised that they “intend to withdraw from the firm and set up a new firm with a handful of colleagues.” Selendy and Gay couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.
Both lawyers, who had been Quinn Emanuel partners in New York and practice leaders, were no longer listed on the firm’s website as of Thursday morning. Selendy previously headed Quinn Emanuel’s securities and structured finance group, while Gay, a former federal prosecutor in Brooklyn, was co-chair of Quinn Emanuel’s nationwide trial practice.
Selendy was selected as an The American Lawyer Litigator of the Year in 2015, in large part for taking on many of the world’s largest banks in litigation emanating from the global financial crisis over their dealings in mortgage-backed securities. In a series of cases, Selendy served as lead outside counsel for the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which sued financial institutions on allegations that their sales of shoddy mortgage-backed securities caused massive losses to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Those cases resulted in settlements in which banks agreed to pay more than $25 billion to the FHFA.
Gay, meanwhile, has a strong track record of her own, representing top name companies including Coca-Cola Co., Colgate-Palmolive Co. and Morgan Stanley. She focuses her civil litigation work in the realms of antitrust, securities, complex financing disputes and consumer class actions, according to a web archive of her online Quinn Emanuel biography. She was also part of a Quinn Emanuel team that represented former New York Gov. David Paterson in successfully beating back a constitutional challenge to Paterson’s midterm appointment of Richard Ravitch as lieutenant governor.
In Quinn Emanuel’s statement, both managing partner John Quinn and New York managing partner Peter Calamari portrayed the departures as a testament to the strength of talent among the firm’s lawyers.
“It is a sign of our firm’s maturity and great success that over the years we have seen individual lawyers in a number of our offices go off to start their own firms. We wish them all great success,” Calamari said in the statement.
Quinn said he did not believe the split-off would have any significant impact on his firm’s business.
“Our firm has never been stronger, and has never had a deeper bench of veteran and next-generation talent. We, of course, respect our valued colleagues’ decision to take their practice to a smaller platform, but we do not expect these departures to have any significant impact on our practice or our revenue,” said Quinn, who also noted that the firm has been in existence for more than 30 years and has more than 720 lawyers across the globe. “Last year was our highest year ever in terms of revenue, and we expect this year to be even better.”
It is unclear how many Quinn Emanuel lawyers will accompany Selendy and Gay in their new venture. Selendy’s wife, Jennifer Selendy, joined Quinn Emanuel from Kirkland & Ellis in 2016 as a partner focused on antitrust and intellectual property litigation and international arbitration. As of Thursday morning, her page on Quinn Emanuel’s website had also been removed.
It is also unclear what the new firm will be called. Records show that the online domain names “selendygay.com” and “selendygaylaw.com” were registered in November, although there is no indication in those records that either Selendy or Gay initiated those registrations.