Law Firms

Chitwood Wins Motley Face-Off; Former Lawyers Spin Off Again

A year-and-a-half after Chitwood Harley Harnes settled claims against four former lawyers who set up a rival securities litigation shop at a new Atlanta office of Motley Rice, the Chitwood firm apparently has prevailed in a head-to-head battle for clients.

Motley is closing its Atlanta office, and the four former Chitwood lawyers, who prefer not to move to Motley’s headquarters in Charleston, S.C., are now spinning off into a new firm, writes the Daily Report in an article reprinted by New York Lawyer (reg. req.).

Ann Ritter, Motley’s managing partner, couldn’t be reached Friday, but documented her dissatisfaction with the Atlanta office’s performance in a Sept. 17 letter confirmed to be authentic by another partner, the legal newspaper reports.

“The practice model was premised on being retained in a significant number of cases on which you had worked at Chitwood and getting new engagements from out-of-state firms,” Ritter writes. “Regrettably, the practice did not materialize as we had hoped.”

Speaking for himself and his three partners, David J. Worley tells the Daily Report that he and Lauren S. Antonino, James M. Evangelista and Stuart J. Guber are now focusing on new opportunities in Atlanta. “Motley Rice is a great firm,” he says. “I appreciate the opportunity that I was offered to stay with the firm but wanted to explore the possibility of remaining in practice with my other Atlanta partners who decided not to go to Charleston.”

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