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February 24, 2010 6:21 PM

The Defections From White & Case Continue

Posted by Brian Baxter

UPDATE: Feb. 26, 7:15 a.m. Sibling publication the New York Law Journal reports that Steven Betensky will be joining Latham & Watkins, the 14th partner to leave for that firm this month.

The hits just keep on coming for White & Case.

On Wednesday, the firm lost the chair of its global information technology practice when Steven Betensky resigned, according to a report by The Lawyer.

Betensky's resignation comes after the recent loss of antitrust partner Elaine Johnston and mining and metals practice chair Tanneke Heersche in recent days.

Johnson, who left the firm late last week, will join the New York office of Allen & Overy to head up that firm's U.S. antitrust practice.

Heersche left White & Case's Johannesburg office earlier this week to join Canadian firm Fasken Martineau, which also has an office in Johannesburg. A White & Case spokeswoman told The Lawyer that Heersche's decision to leave the firm was "very much a personal move rather than anything else--she's heading back to Canada."

The defections come less than three weeks after 13 partners moved to Latham & Watkins from White & Case's offices in London, New York, Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, and Doha. Latham's raid on the firm caused White & Case to redeploy key partners to those offices in an effort to steady the ship. (Only one associate was manning White & Case's office in Qatar after the departure of M&A partner Andrew Macklin.)

Betensky declined to give a reason for his resignation when contacted by The Lawyer.

According to the most recent financial data for the firm, White & Case saw revenue decline 11 percent in 2009 to $1.3 billion in one of the largest drops reported so far by an Am Law 100 firm. Profits per partner remained flat at nearly $1.6 million.

White & Case made headlines last March when it cut 200 attorneys and another 200 staffers following the announcement of a firmwide reorganization plan mandated by chairman Hugh Verrier. (The New York Times wrote about the firm's efforts to shrink in size last summer.)

Despite the doom and gloom surrounding the firm, White & Case did promote 33 lawyers to partner earlier this year, 12 more promotions than last year.

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From what I hear, there are more departures to come, including "stealth" departures in the form of full-time partners changing their status to part-time (and not necessarily for family reasons). This allows the firm to reduce costs without further reducing headcount.

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