The Firms

December 15, 2010 4:23 PM

Report: Nixon Peabody Loses Five Rochester Partners to LeClairRyan

Posted by Brian Baxter

Five partners are splitting off from the Rochester office of Nixon Peabody and are expected to open a new office in the city for Virginia-based LeClairRyan, according to a report by the Rochester Business Journal.

The New York Law Journal, a sibling publication, has a news brief on the moves. The departures come in the midst of management changes at Nixon Peabody and a shift in the firm's power base from New York to Boston, as the NYLJ reported earlier this week.

The RBJ and NYLJ report that the five departing lawyers are IP partners Michael Goldman, Gunnar Leinberg, and Andrew Zappia, bankruptcy partner Gregory Mascitti, and litigation partner Richard McGuirk. Nixon Peabody has confirmed that the five have given notice; the firm cannot verify the partners' moves to LeClair.

Nixon Peabody was formed through a 1999 merger between Rochester-based Nixon, Hargrave, Devans & Doyle and Boston-based Peabody & Brown. In recent months, Nixon Peabody has suffered from a series of partner defections, including the loss of a group of corporate and finance lawyers to Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman and two insurance partners to DLA Piper in June. In July, the head of the firm's international labor and employment group and one other employment partner joined Littler Mendelson.

In a statement to The Am Law Daily on Wednesday, a Nixon Peabody spokeswoman said, "The legal market remains fluid; we've seen lawyers come and go in the past; and we're likely to continue to see movement in both directions."

"Our intellectual property department is nationally ranked and includes a robust life sciences practice," the firm's spokeswoman told us. "Our firm has strong capabilities across the board and is attracting top talent." (Last month Nixon Peabody entered the Hong Kong market through an alliance with local firm Cheng Wong Lam & Partners.)

A LeClairRyan spokesman declined our request for comment on the firm's reported lateral hires. Gary LeClair, cofounder and chairman of the firm, did not respond to a request for comment. Three anonymous sources told the NYLJ that LeClairRyan was the destination for the five Nixon Peabody laterals.

The Connecticut Law Tribune, a sibling publication, reported on the Richmond-based firm's expansion efforts two years ago when LeClairRyan opened an office in New Haven by picking up nine lawyers from a local firm. That followed the firm's entry into the Boston market in July 2007 with ten lawyers from a local firm and a December 2007 merger with 45-lawyer Newark firm Seiden Wayne.

Last year, sibling publication The Recorder reported that LeClairRyan was seeking to grow in California through some West Coast laterals. But not everyone is rushing to join the 300-lawyer firm.

In June, 15 lawyers from LeClairRyan's New York, Richmond, and Washington, D.C., offices split off from the firm to form financial services litigation and regulatory boutique Murphy & McGonigle, according to sibling publication The National Law Journal. The two firms called the split amicable and said they plan to work together in the future.

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