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January 18, 2011 7:12 PM

Dewey's Magnificent Seven

Posted by Victor Li

Tuesday was a day of major hires for a handful of Am Law 100 firms, and leading the pack--strictly by the number of laterals announced by a single firm--is Dewey & LeBoeuf. Seven high-profile lawyers are joining Dewey from Baker & McKenzie, Dechert, Howrey, and Sullivan & Cromwell.

The new partners are: Howrey IP litigation partners Henry C. Bunsow, Denise Mory, and Brian Smith, who will join Dewey's San Francisco office; Craig Allison, a patent litigation partner from Dechert, will head to the Silicon Valley office. Additionally, oil and gas partners Karl Hopkins and Steven Otillar now report to the Houston office after departing from Baker & McKenzie. And international arbitration partner James Carter of Sullivan & Cromwell is based in Dewey's New York office.

The laterals announced on Tuesday underscore Dewey's strategic hiring process of targeting certain areas and sectors as a way of strengthening the firm globally. "There are three or four things we think make us unique," says Jeffrey Kessler, chairman of the firm's global litigation department. "We have a major presence in the largest financial sectors, we make sure we have a strategic presence in the most important jurisdictions worldwide, we have a major emphasis on technology from a global side, and we have a balance between litigation and corporate, as well as a sector emphasis on key areas like energy, green issues, and financial issues relating to insurance. There are a lot of firms that have a few of those pieces, but it's hard to find another firm that has all those pieces."

Firm chairman Steven Davis says the moves announced Tuesday have been in the works for some time and are consistent with the firm's growth strategy. "Ever since the [Dewey Ballentine/LeBoeuf Lamb] merger, we've had our program in place to build up key practice areas with the highest quality people we can find," says Davis. He points to energy as one of those key practice areas. The additions of Hopkins and Otillar are expected to boost Dewey's global energy practice--Hopkins has represented Middle Eastern-based oil and gas companies, as well as the Turkish government, while Otillar has handled energy acquisition and renewable energy projects in China, Brazil, and Latin America.

With respect to the Carter hire, Kessler says, "It's very important to have a premier international arbitration and dispute resolution practice, and Jim Carter is a superstar in that area." Carter previously headed S&C's intellectual property group. He has 40 years worth of experience as arbitrator or counsel in more than 100 cases.

According to Kessler, Dewey has been looking for a patent litigation group "for years." It's now found it in Bunsow and his colleagues. Busnow had served as Howrey's vice chairman and managing partner of the firm's Northern California offices; he will become cochair of Dewey & LeBoeuf's IP litigation practice. Official start dates for the three have yet to be determined, according to a Dewey spokesman. (The moves by Busnow and his colleagues are the latest in a string of departures from Howrey, which has seen more than 60 lawyers depart in the past year. The National Law Journal has more on this here.)

Kessler hints that Dewey isn't done bringing in high-profile partners. "I don't think this will be the last announcement we make during this first quarter," he says. "We hope to announce comparable additions in other areas and we're very excited about the quality of people that want to come to our firm."

According to the latest Am Law 100 financial data, Dewey had gross revenue of $914 million in 2009, with profits per partner of $1.6 million.

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