1 Big Lateral Moves in a Tough Year Gina Passarella Last year wasn't a banner one for lateral hire moves. As the economy slowed, so too did the number of partner departures. But the Top Lateral list must go on, and as staff at The Legal began trolling through archives and talking to industry insiders, there were more than enough names found to be deserving of recognition. As we point out each year, this list is far from scientific and works off of a number of varying criteria. The top 10 are listed in no particular order. Those selected may have made the list for the impact their departures had on their former firm or for what they brought to their new firm. They may have been named for the buzz they created when they moved or for bringing to their new firm what is expected to be a growing practice. While there weren't as many standout names to choose from this year, there were certainly some standout firms. Making aggressive moves throughout 2008 were firms like Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott and Cozen O'Connor. As of November 2008, Pittsburgh-based Eckert Seamans grew its Philadelphia office by more than 120 percent since early in A number of those laterals, a few of which are mentioned on this list, were brought on throughout Cozen O'Connor made some strategic grabs throughout the year, filling out departments and wooing attorneys with the chance to lead practice groups. Much of that growth was in an effort to build up the business side of the firm's practice, although one of the names that made the Top Lateral list is now a Cozen O'Connor litigator. On the other side of that coin, a few law firms saw a number of big names depart. Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll and Saul Ewing, which both picked up some notable laterals in 2008, each had a number of significant departures. As 2009 gets underway and bonuses are or perhaps are not doled out, some recruiters are expecting a flurry of lateral movement in the coming months. Others are expecting a continued slowing of movement, in part because only attorneys with books of business will be in demand. Francis A. Muracca II Fran Muracca, one of the most-mentioned names by those in the industry when The Legal was compiling this list, gave the legal community a bit of a surprise when he confirmed he was leaving Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney for the Pittsburgh office of Jones Day. Along with many other leadership roles, Muracca had most recently been the chief strategic officer at Buchanan Ingersoll and was long considered to be Chief Executive Officer Thomas L. VanKirk's successor-in-waiting. There were rumors in the community that Muracca and firm leadership had a falling out over certain hiring decisions, but Muracca said at the time of his departure that he was looking for an international platform to support his practice advising emerging companies on tax and other business issues. He had served from 1996 to 2002 as chairman of the firm's tax practice, and then served from 2002 through 2007 as either the chief operating or chief strategic officer of the firm, driving its rapid growth over the past few years.
2 He voluntarily stepped down from that role in January 2008 to focus more on his practice, VanKirk said at the time. Tax and wealth management attorney Samuel Goncz made the move to Jones Day along with Muracca. Jeffrey Weil Longtime Dechert partner Jeffrey Weil was another one of those names easily recalled when thinking of who might best fit this list. Weil had known no other employer since he summered with Dechert more than 30 years ago, but it was the opportunity to lead a practice group and maintain a comfortable rate structure that caused him to move to Cozen O'Connor. Weil took his practice of class action and complex litigation cases to Cozen O'Connor in October in order to head up the firm's commercial litigation practice. At the time of his move, he said it was the leadership role that clinched the deal. Dechert partner Robert Heim was in solid control of the firm's litigation practice and rates were climbing as the firm looked to focus on high-end practice areas, Weil said. While at Dechert, Weil served at various times as the firm's chairman of the hiring committee, member of the executive committee and as its ethics and malpractice partner. Since joining Cozen O'Connor, Weil has taken a co-leadership role with firm Chairman Stephen A. Cozen in a task force the firm created to sort through potential claims involving alleged fraud by financier Bernard Madoff. John P. Lavelle Jr. Morgan Lewis & Bockius saw something it wanted in John Lavelle and was ultimately successful in recruiting him away from Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll in December. Lavelle was the head of Ballard Spahr's products liability and mass tort program, but trading that in for an international platform turned out to be more enticing. He represents pharmaceutical and medical device companies in litigation claims and said at the time of his move that Morgan Lewis just had a greater depth in that practice with the ability to be retained as national coordinating counsel on large cases. When he made the move, the head of Morgan Lewis' litigation practice said he had been following Lavelle's success and wanted to bring him on to help expand the practice, which he said made up about 20 percent of the overall litigation group. Ballard Spahr Chairman Arthur Makadon credited the loss in part to the firm not building out the products liability practice when it had the chance. Aside from his litigation work, Lavelle has experience with both election law and political campaigning. He most most recently served as the Pennsylvania state election counsel for Barack Obama's presidential campaign. O. Daniel Ansa Litigation firm Morison-Knox Holden & Prough changed its name in Febraury 2008 to Morison Ansa Holden Assuncao & Prough when it added 14 new attorneys and five offices around the country. One of those new attorneys was Daniel Ansa, who joined the firm from the Philadelphia office of DLA Piper, along with five other local attorneys many of whom also came from DLA Piper. All in all, 11 of the 14 new attorneys came directly from DLA Piper and some had prior ties to the firm. Ansa managed a number of client services teams across the country for DLA Piper. While his new firm may have been relatively unknown to this market, Ansa was a significant player here with several recruiters pointing to his substantial book of business. At the time of his departure, Ansa put the combined worth of his and fellow DLA Piper partner Robert A. Assuncao's book of business at somewhere north of $12
3 million, with his alone estimated at about $9 million. Assuncao joined Morison Ansa along with Ansa. James M. Brogan, managing partner of DLA Piper's Philadelphia office, said at the time, however, that he didn't believe Ansa's book was worth quite that much. John Ellison & Timothy Law In late January 2008, Reed Smith announced it would be taking about 55 attorneys from Anderson Kill & Olick's New York, Chicago and Philadelphia offices, recruiting away a good chunk of Anderson Kill's 120 attorneys. Shareholders John Ellison and Timothy Law joined Reed Smith's Philadelphia office as partners along with seven other associates. The group added depth to Reed Smith's existing insurance recovery practice in a year that later promised to create a rise in that type of litigation. The move occurred when a number of Anderson Kill attorneys wanted to continue talks with Reed Smith after merger discussions between the two firms failed. At the time of the acquisition, Reed Smith Managing Partner Gregory Jordan said the insurance recovery practice, with more than 50 attorneys, was one of the firm's fastest growing and most profitable practices. The firm represents clients in disputes with their insurance companies. Ellison was the Philadelphia office managing shareholder at Anderson Kill. His group's departure left Anderson Kill's Philadelphia office with eight attorneys. The firm now has 10 attorneys listed as spending at least part of their time in the city. M. Norman Goldberger Norman Goldberger appears on this list for his 2008 move, along with six other Wolf Block partners, to litigation boutique Hangley Aronchick Segal & Pudlin, and what the entire group's move meant for Wolf Block and brought to Hangley Aronchick. Even though Goldberger and three other attorneys had a short-lived stay at Hangley Aronchick, recently moving to Ballard Spahr, Hangley Aronchick saw some of the financial benefits of Goldberger's presence in 2008 and is left with two new practices and a new office despite his leaving the firm. Goldberger left Wolf Block in March along with litigation partners Matthew White and Laura Krabill. The three of them and a former Wolf Block associate who later made the move to Hangley Aronchick all left for Ballard Spahr last month. Remaining at Hangley Aronchick are environmental attorneys Kenneth Warren and Steven Miano and family law attorneys Cheryl Young and Helen Casale. Young and Casale brought the firm a new Norristown, Pa., office. When they left Wolf Block, the group said they wanted a smaller platform, and at the time 300-attorney Wolf Block had been in the middle of merger discussions with 450- attorney Akerman Senterfitt. While at Wolf Block, Goldberger had served at various times as head of the firm's litigation group as well as the financial partner. Bernabeo, Driscoll, Naccarella & Simpson Partners Gregory S. Bernabeo, Stephen J. Driscoll, Theodore Naccarella and Mark D. Simpson left intellectual property boutique Synnestvedt & Lechner for Saul Ewing back in June. While the group's move followed a number of one-off partner departures from the firm, it seemed to begin a string of events that ultimately led to the dissolution of Synnestvedt & Lechner. Shortly after the group's defection, Synnestvedt & Lechner laid off a number of staff and then a few months later announced it would be disbanding when it became clear none of the remaining partners were interested in running the firm.
4 The four partners had been looking to join a larger firm and reached out to Saul Ewing a few months before their departure. They brought with them a patent prosecution and procurement practice, along with a focus on advising businesses on their patent portfolios. When Synnestvedt & Lechner broke up, a little more than half of their remaining attorneys, including Managing Partner Joseph Posillico, joined Fox Rothschild. While the last few years have seen a number of intellectual property attorneys leave larger firms for a more boutique-style practice, the defections from and dissolution of Synnestvedt & Lechner had many pointing to the continuing difficulty of running and intellectual property boutique that doesn't have a strong litigation component. William H. Rheiner & Group Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young is known for its focus on the financial services industry and has been building up its investment management practice over the last few years. In March 2008, the firm was successful in bringing over five attorneys from Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll, including the partner-in-charge of Ballard Spahr's investment management practice, William Rheiner. He was joined in the move by Matthew R. DiClemente, E. Carolan Berkley, John N. Ake and Lisa M. King. Rheiner, DiClemente, Berkley and Ake are all partners at Stradley Ronon and King is of counsel. At the time of Rheiner's departure, Makadon said the firm had between 12 to 15 years to build out the practice and never did it. Rheiner said his move came after a long discussion with one of his largest clients about which of the several firms in town might be a good choice. He said it was a mutual decision between himself and his client to go to Stradley Ronon. Rheiner and company put Stradley Ronon's growing investment management/mutual funds group at more than 40 attorneys. At the time of his move, the practice served more than 700 separate funds with over $1 trillion in assets under management. Robert Jacobs-Meadway & Jay K. Meadway In January, the husband-and-wife team of Roberta Jacobs-Meadway and Jay Meadway made a move from Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll to the Philadelphia office of Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellot. The move brought Eckert Seamans its first intellectual property attorneys in Philadelphia and resulted in another attorney following them over a few weeks later: labor and employment attorney Bernadine J. Munley, who has trademark litigation experience. At the time of Munley's departure, one recruiter said she was a rainmaker with a lot of connections in the city. Jacobs-Meadway was one of The Legal's top lateral hires after she left Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld for Ballard Spahr in An intellectual property attorney at a third firm said at the time of the Meadways' departure that they were "first-rate" attorneys who would "leave a big hole in [Ballard Spahr's] trademark and intellectual property department." The Meadways cited an opportunity to help develop an intellectual property practice as one of the main drivers of their move. Ballard Spahr had taken its time in cultivating an intellectual property practice. Makadon said the firm was looking for the perfect fit and found it in July when it acquired Atlanta-based intellectual property boutique Needle & Rosenberg. Michael Schwartz After 13 years with the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and a a slew of high-profile cases under his belt, Michael Schwartz decided in February 2008 that he would make the move back to private practice. He joined Pepper Hamilton
5 as a partner in the Philadelphia office to focus on both white-collar criminal defense and media law. Schwartz was the assistant U.S. attorney in charge of the corruption, civil rights, labor and tax section for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. During his time as a prosecutor, Schwartz handled the prosecution of Commerce Bank officials involved with former Philadelphia Treasurer Corey Kemp's corruption scheme and served as trial counsel in the two cases involving former city Councilman Rick Mariano. Schwartz said he joined Pepper Hamilton because two former colleagues, one from the prosecutor's office and another from his time at Dechert, had previously made the move to the firm. Thomas Gallagher worked with Schwartz at the U.S. Attorney's Office and now heads up Pepper Hamilton's white-collar and corporate investigations group. Schwartz worked with Pepper Hamilton partner Amy Ginensky on media law cases when they were both at Dechert. At the time of his move, other white-collar defense attorneys in town said Schwartz was a "big win" for the firm, describing him as "extremely smart, extremely scrupulous" and "very fair."
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