Months after indicating it would be addressing performance issues with some partners, storied Washington law and lobby firm Patton Boggs saw 17 partners announce they were leaving for other firms.
More than half of the partners worked out of Patton Boggs’ Dallas office, but the impending exits also include partners in Washington and Denver, firm spokesman Elliott Frieder said.
Several Patton Boggs partners in Dallas appear to be heading to Holland & Knight to start the firm’s new Dallas office. A Holland & Knight spokeswoman said the firm is opening a Dallas office and that a group of Patton Boggs lawyers would be joining them, but declined to elaborate on the exact number of attorneys or the timing of the move.
It is not unheard of for a large number of partners to leave a law firm at the same time, but it often indicates internal unrest and can lead to a sudden loss of significant business for the firm.
In March, Patton Boggs, a Washington institution known primarily for its lobbying practice, laid off 65 people — 30 attorneys and 35 staff — in a move expected to save $14.7 million. At the time, Managing Partner Ed Newberry said that although Patton Boggs had not dismissed any partners, the firm would, over time, “make adjustments to partner head count” and “counsel partners who aren’t performing out.”
Newberry did not return a request for comment last week.
Last year, overall revenue at Patton Boggs dropped about 6.5 percent from $339.5 million to $317.5 million, according to figures submitted to the trade publication American Lawyer. The firm’s lobbying group remains the top-earning lobby shop in the city, earning nearly $46 million in lobbying fees in 2012.
“Recently a number of attorneys at the firm announced their intention to move on. Movements of this kind are a regular occurrence in the industry, and Patton Boggs, like its peers, will continue to pursue strategic hirings and acquisitions where they make sense,” Patton Boggs spokesman Frieder said in a statement following the departures. “These colleagues are our friends and we thank them for their service and wish them well in their new endeavors.”
The firm celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, and has about 500 lawyers in 10 offices worldwide.