New leaders share power at Boies Schiller amid lawyer departures and compensation issues
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Recent partner defections at Boies Schiller Flexner are a sign of the firm’s natural evolution, according to one of the law firm’s new managing partners, Nicholas Gravante.
Speaking with Law.com, Gravante said lawyers have personal loyalty to the law firm founders in the first generation of any law firm. Boies Schiller was formed in 1997.
“Now that we are maturing,” Gravante said, “I believe institutional loyalty displaces personal loyalty to the founders, [and] my sense is it is not as strong a bond as personal loyalty.”
The firm doesn’t expect any drop in revenues as a result of the departures, according to another new managing partner, Natasha Harrison.
Gravante and Harrison were named managing partners to work alongside Jonathan Schiller and David Boies, who is also firm chairman, Law.com reported in December.
Since the first of the year, at least eight partners announced they are leaving. Two groups of partners formed separate law firms. One of the firms, Roche Cyrulnik Freedman in Miami, included a dozen Boies Schiller lawyers, including a few partners as well as associates and counsel. A few other partners joined the law firms Cooley and Jenner & Block.
Law.com notes that Boies has faced criticism for his efforts to stop media reports on sexual misconduct by client Harvey Weinstein. Boies was also the subject of a New York Times story in December that said he had been duped by a man who claimed to be a hacker with sex tapes implicating several powerful men in the sexual abuse scandal involving multimillionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein.
There is also dissatisfaction with the law firm’s black-box compensation system for partners.
Some partners have supported a compensation model with compensation tiers or bands, two anonymous sources told Law.com. A new system could bring higher compensation to younger business generators, the sources said.
Harrison said in a statement provided to Law.com that the firm is reevaluating its “equity allocation system” and will consider any changes when the review is complete. The firm is also considering changes to associate compensation.
Law.com notes that Boies Schiller remains strong financially. The firm had $420 million in revenues in 2018 and profits per equity partner of more than $3 million.
The firm may also be concentrating on developing core areas. Gravante said in a 2019 interview with Lawdragon that one of his priorities is “retrenchment,” which consists of doing fewer things better.
He did not say whether recent departures were part of a retrenchment.