Law Firms

Patton Boggs plans to keep slimming down, partners asked to suspend draws

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Patton Boggs has asked about 15 to 20 partners to leave in the next few months, though some may stay and change their status within the firm, according to managing partner Edward Newberry.

About half of those asked to leave are equity partners and about half are income partners, Newbery told the National Law Journal (sub. req.). A few others are expected to leave on their own accord. The partners asked to leave are not producing enough or contributing to firm profitability, Newberry said.

Newberry asked for a vote of confidence at a partnership meeting on Feb. 28, and about 90 percent indicated they would stay with the firm, he told the National Law Journal.

In “a showing of the flag,” Newberry and Thomas Hale Boggs Jr. said they would suspend their draws and asked other partners who could afford it to do the same, Boggs told the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.).

Among those pledging to stay is white-collar defense partner Robert Luskin. “If I were looking to leave,” he told the National Law Journal, “I would have plenty of opportunities. It’s not something I’m particularly worried about. It’s not a situation where I think there’s any risk. … It’s a f—ing no brainer.”

According to the National Law Journal, gross revenue at the firm declined about 12 percent last year and net income dropped about 23 percent. But profits per partner and revenue per lawyer dropped only about 2 percent.

The firm’s ouster of some lawyers was planned more than a year ago, Newberry said, after Patton Boggs saw revenue drop from loss of insurance defense work related to Sept. 11 claims. The firm took another hit last week when a federal judge blocked collection of a $9.5 billion judgment by an Ecuadorian court in a pollution case against Chevron. Patton Boggs was aiding the plaintiff’s lawyer on a contingency basis, according to past coverage. Chevron has sued Patton Boggs in a separate case alleging the firm contributed to fraud, the National Law Journal story says. Newberry says he’s confident a judge will find the firm acted ethically in the litigation.

The firm is currently in merger talks with Squire Sanders.

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