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January 12, 2009 4:01 PM

O'Melveny Bankruptcy Cochair Leaves for Dechert

Posted by Nate Raymond

Sage_M15960web Michael Sage, the cohead of restructuring at O'Melveny & Myers, joined Dechert on Monday.

Sage, who joined O'Melveny in 2007, has represented creditors and bondholders in the Chapter 11 proceedings for Refco Inc. and Ziff Davis Media Inc. He is just the latest in a series of high-profile moves in the bankruptcy bar.

"This stage of the economic cycle has seen a heightened demand for restructuring and reorganization of legal services," says H. Jeffrey Schwartz, head of restructuring at Dechert. "And also it's January. Typically lateral moves of significant practitioners across the board would occur at the outset of the calendar year."

Last week Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft restructuring cochair Bruce Zirinsky left for Greenberg Traurig, while plaintiffs firm Milberg kicked-off its own bankruptcy practice by hiring Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher's former practice cohead Jonathan Landers. Bankruptcy star James Sprayregen returned to Kirkland & Ellis in December after a two-year stint at Goldman Sachs. And in November, Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker announced it hired Luc Despins from Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy.

Sage primarily represents creditors in bankruptcies and out-of-court restructurings. He bills $895 an hour, according to an August filing in the Ziff Davis bankruptcy, which earned O'Melveny nearly $1.02 million in fees.

"I perceived that Dechert provides me a wonderful opportunity to combine my practice and things I like to do and am good at with what the firm does," Sage says.

Sage has a history of moves, often with others coming along. He joined O'Melveny not long ago in May 2007 from Strook & Strook & Lavan with three partners in tow. He had joined Stroock in 2002 from Dewey & Ballantine with eight associates following him.

So far, Sage is the only one joining Dechert. He says he has "no immediate plans" to recruit from O'Melveny. A spokesperson for O'Melveny & Myers says the firm wishes Sage well.

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