Thomas Goldstein, co-chair of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld’s appellate practice and the primary author of SCOTUSblog.com, is leaving Akin after five years with the firm. In about three weeks, Goldstein will rejoin the firm where he was a name partner before joining Akin. That firm, Howe & Russell, will become Goldstein, Howe & Russell when Goldstein returns.
The move was first reported by Above the Law.
Goldstein said that he has been mulling the move for the past two weeks after one of his “largest” clients asked him to pick up additional work on its behalf. Goldstein declined to name the client but said that it has a “love-hate relationship” with another Akin client which would lead to problems once he begins handling the additional work. He added that he wanted to “return to the firm where I had spent seven-and-a-half years before joining Akin.”
At his new firm, Goldstein will rejoin Supreme Court litigators Amy Howe and Kevin Russell. Patricia Millett, who has co-chaired Akin’s appellate practice with Goldstein, will take over as its sole chair. Millett has argued 28 cases before the Supreme Court, according to her Akin profile.
While appellate practices, particularly those that focus primarily on Supreme Court litigation, are notoriously difficult to make profitable, Goldstein said that profits were not part of the decision to leave Akin.
“In terms of hard numbers, Supreme Court practices can be quite difficult to make profitable, but I have expanded my practice to do a lot of other kinds of litigation,” Goldstein said. “My practice was about $1 million when I joined Akin and it has since grown to about $3 million.”
To date, Goldstein has argued 22 cases before the Supreme Court.
Goldstein said the timing of his move is predicated by the team of Harvard students who have three weeks left at Akin as part of the firm’s winter-term clinical course. He said the team will continue working at Akin after his departure.
Goldstein said that he has “nothing but over-the-moon praise” for the firm where he has spent the past five years, adding that he was “given every opportunity I could have asked for.” He said that Akin and Goldstein, Howe & Russell will continue to work together closely in the future. “The two firms are super-close and will continue to collaborate,” he said.
As for SCOTUSblog, Goldstein said he hasn’t had a chance to discuss its future with Akin’s management yet, citing the holidays as the reason. But he said he will continue to serve as its driving force after he leaves Akin. “I’m not going to leave it behind, anyway,” he said, adding that he “wouldn’t be surprised” if Akin continues to serve as the blog’s primary sponsor.
In a prepared statement, Anthony Pierce, managing partner of Akin’s Washington office, said, “This is a great opportunity for Tom. We will miss him, but look forward to working with him on projects in the future and seeing him around Washington. We wish him well.”