Six former Patton Boggs partners open Dallas office of McGuireWoods

Six partners have left the Dallas office of Patton Boggs to open a third Texas outpost for McGuireWoods, a large U.S. law firm with roots in Richmond, Va.

The Dallas partners are Jon Finger, Akash Sethi, J. Kevin Boardman, David McLean, Darren W. Collins and Robert C. Hilton, McGuireWoods announced Monday. McGuireWoods, which has about 900 lawyers in the United States, London and Brussels, already has Texas offices in Austin and Houston. The departures were reported earlier by Reuters.

McLean, Boardman, Sethi and Finger specialize in private equity, and Collins and Hilton practice intellectual property law.

In addition, Washington-based partner Benjamin Chew has left for Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman. Chew co-chaired the commercial litigation and antitrust practice group at Patton Boggs.

A spokesperson for Patton Boggs, which is in the midst of merger talks with Squire Sanders, said in a statement that the recent departures do not affect the merger discussions and are “not material to the firm.” The Washington lobbying powerhouse has been reorganizing since early 2013, letting go a combined 110 lawyers and staff, deciding to close its once-profitable Newark office and engaging in merger talks with at least three other law firms — a move that some former Patton Boggs attorneys regard a as key to the firm’s survival. Revenue at the firm has fallen 18 percent since 2011, from $340 million to $279 million, and the firm’s partners last year approved a restructuring plan that included changing the way the firm splits profits among its partners. The firm recently hired financial advisers.

“As previously reported, in February we asked our partners to let us know if they remained committed to the firm, and more than 90 percent responded affirmatively,” the statement said. “The partners who have recently resigned were among the few who declined to make that commitment.  Their departures do not affect our ongoing discussions with Squire Sanders, do not impact our strategic plan, and are not material to the firm.”

The firm has previously said it planned to shrink its equity partnership about 30 percent, from 98 equity partners as of November 2013 to 70 by the end of 2014.

The statement said an “overwhelming majority” of partners at Patton Boggs “are rowing in the same direction and share a common strategic vision. As to those who have decided to pursue other opportunities, we wish them well.”

Catherine Ho covers law and lobbying for the Capital Business section of The Washington Post. She previously worked at the LA Daily Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the Detroit Free Press, the Wichita Eagle and the San Mateo County Times.
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