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Thirteen Boies Schiller Partners Defect to King & Spalding (1)

April 23, 2020, 7:30 PMUpdated: April 23, 2020, 7:49 PM

Thirteen Boies Schiller Flexner partners have left that firm to join King & Spalding’s trial and investigations group in California.

Their departure is the latest in a slew of recent defections from the New York-based practice founded by marquee litigator David Boies. It’s a coup for King & Spalding, which has added more than a dozen new partners in offices across the U.S. this year, firm Chairman Robert Hays said in a statement announcing the new hires on Thursday.

Leading the exodus is David Willingham, who was co-managing partner of Boies Schiller’s Los Angeles office. The group also includes Michael Leslie, co-founder of the Caldwell Leslie litigation boutique, which merged with Boies Schiller in 2017.

Twelve of the partners, including Willingham and Leslie, will be based in Los Angeles, with one joining King & Spalding’s San Francisco office.

“This is an outstanding team of highly accomplished trial lawyers, many of whom also have deep experience in the white collar and investigations space,” Hays said. One of its recent recruits is former deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein in Washington. Other lawyers have been added to its offices in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Austin, Texas.

Boies Schiller in December unveiled its plans to transition management away from Boies and partner Jonathan Schiller, its executive committee nominating New York-based Nick Gravante and London-based Natasha Harrison to serve alongside the firm’s founders.

But it’s seen more than a dozen partners leave the firm since the start of 2020. One group of lawyers left in January to form a new boutique litigation firm under the leadership of former Boies equity partner Jason Cyrulnik. Other partners have since left for Vinson & Elkins and Jenner & Block.

“We have embarked on an ambitious transition of leadership from the firm’s founders to the next generation. Building on what we have achieved as a preeminent litigation firm, the transition necessarily involves some changes,” BSF’s Gravante said in a statement emailed to Bloomberg Law.

Those leaving the firm’s California offices all joined the firm in 2017 or later and all but two were part of the 2017 Caldwell Leslie acquisition, he said, calling them “fine lawyers” and good colleagues.

“This is a period of great uncertainty for the whole world,” Gravante added. “What is not uncertain, however, is that the California legal market, and our Los Angeles and San Francisco offices specifically, will remain integral parts of the firm’s geographical and strategic footprint,” and will continue to service existing and new clients.

Joining King & Spalding’s L.A. offices are Albert Giang, Luan Tran, Michael Roth, Eric Pettit, Jeanne Fugate, Arwen Johnson, Craig Bessenger, Kelly Perigoe, Julia Bredrup and Lennette Lee. Partner Quyen Ta is joining the firm in San Francisco.

Two more Boies Schiller partners, Christopher Caldwell and Jeffrey Hammer, are set to follow their colleagues to King & Spalding at a future date, according to King & Spalding spokeswoman Micheline Tang.

(Adds comment from Boies Schiller managing partner)

To contact the reporter on this story: Stephanie Russell-Kraft in New York at srussellkraft@gmail.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jessie Kokrda Kamens at jkamens@bloomberglaw.com; Andrew Harris at aharris@bloomberglaw.com; Rebekah Mintzer at rmintzer@bloomberglaw.com

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