Holland & Knight Dallas executive partner James Chadwick and partner Michelle Suarez issued a joint statement in response to this news item.
"Unfortunately, some press reports have implied that the 12 partners in our group were among those counseled for unsatisfactory performance at Patton Boggs. That is not accurate. None of the lawyers now joining Holland & Knight were among those counseled. Our group was very successful at Patton Boggs and we expect to have continued success at Holland & Knight."
Patton Boggs warned 18 partners earlier this year that their performance was unsatisfactory, and that they needed to improve or find a new firm.
Now 17 partners are parting ways with Patton Boggs. But it is unclear whether these are the same ones who were put on notice. The departures mark the second time this year Patton Boggs has shed a significant number attorneys from its ranks.
In March, Patton Boggs announced it was laying off 30 associates and 35 staff members at the same time that Legal Times reported poor financial results for the firm.
News of the 17 partner departures was first reported today by The Washington Post, which said attorneys would leave from Patton Boggs offices in Dallas, Washington and Denver.
A spokeswoman for Holland & Knight said the firm intends to open a Dallas office soon with a group of lawyers from Patton Boggs. The spokeswoman declined to say how many Patton lawyers are joining Holland & Knight or when the office would open.
"Recently a number of attorneys at the firm announced their intention to move on," firm spokesman Elliott Frieder said in a written statement. " 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. These colleagues are our friends and we thank them for their service and wish them well in their new endeavors."
Managing partner Edward Newberry attributed the firm's poor financial performance in 2012 to the changing payment plans of clients, deferred payments and a decline in demand from large clients. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Washington-based Patton partner Robert Luskin, who practices in white-collar defense, described the process as “painful.” But it wasn’t unexpected, he said.
“This is really Act 2 of a play we previewed a few months ago,” Luskin said.
Luskin said his colleagues aren’t “eyeballing the exits.” The firm, he said, is heading in the right direction.
“People are not getting nervous,” Luskin said, adding that he isn’t aware of another major partner exodus in the near future.
Andrew Ramonas contributed to this report.