A group of four employee benefits partners have left McDermott Will & Emery to join Proskauer Rose's Washington office. The group, which starts work at Proskauer today, is led by Paul Hamburger and also includes Todd Castleton, Eugene Holmes, and James Napoli. Hamburger joins the firm as a partner, and Castleton, Holmes, and Napoli join as senior counsel.
Rory Albert, co-chair of the firm’s employee benefits practice, said the deal has been in the works for the past three years but it wasn’t until recently that all of the details were worked out. “Some partners have been calling it a courtship, but it’s much more of a common law marriage. We’ve been referring to it as Operation Hamburger.”
Albert said the deal stalled while Hamburger and his team decided how to make the move, which would require at least some to join below the partner level. “Paul wanted to make the move badly, but the economic situation didn’t merit making them all partners. Paul didn’t want to make the move without his team,” Albert said.
Hamburger said the move, which will establish Proskauer’s first Washington foothold for its employee benefits practice, was an exciting enough opportunity that his teammates were willing to join the firm as senior counsel and not full partners. “It just became obvious that the mix of our practices was the way to go,” Hamburger said.
Hamburger advises Fortune 500 employers on aspects of their employee benefit programs, particularly in connection with large M&A and other corporate transactions. He also focuses on COBRA, and frequently represents his clients before the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Labor, and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.
Castleton’s practice focuses on the compliance and administration of qualified defined contribution and defined benefit plans, nonqualified deferred compensation arrangements, and health and welfare plans. Holmes counsels clients in plan operation and governmental regulatory compliance. Napoli focuses on Employee Retirement Income Security Act matters and counsels clients on qualified defined contribution and defined benefit plans, nonqualified deferred compensation arrangements, health and welfare plans.
The team’s client portfolio, which Albert says is largely making the move with them, includes SCANA Corp., Merrill Lynch, Time Warner, and ADP.
Trevor Chaplick, head of Proskauer’s D.C. Office, said the move was part of the firm’s effort to continue growing its Washington office. “Paul and his group really, really plays to our strengths,” he said.
Update (4:03 p.m.) Bobby Burchfield, co-managing partner of McDermott’s Washington office, "We think very highly of Paul and our three other colleagues. But we remain one of the largest employee benefits practices around with more than 75 lawyers in the area. We wish them the best and look forward to continuing to represent many of the world's largest companies in that specialty."