Updated 6:54 p.m.
A clearer picture is emerging about the future plans of more than a dozen partners who have left Patton Boggs from offices in Washington, Dallas and Denver.
Holland & Knight is taking 23 Patton attorneys from the firm’s Dallas office, including 12 partners. Among them are Michelle Suárez, the former office managing partner, and James Chadwick, the former co-chairman of the business department. Chadwick will serve as the executive partner of Holland & Knight's new office in Dallas.
The other Dallas partners who are starting at Holland & Knight are: James Baker, M. Matthew Fontane, Anthony Herrera, Robert Jones, Eric Kimball, Brent McIlwain, Eric Pfeifle, Fred Stovall, Kenneth Vesledahl and Scott Wallace. The Dallas office, which is left with 32 partners, is Patton Boggs' second largest behind Washington.
Suárez focuses on lending and investment transactions and represents financial institutions, business credit divisions and capital companies. Chadwick represents financial institutions on debt and equity financing, restructuring and bankruptcy. Most of the departing Patton attorneys in Dallas work in the financial arena or business litigation.
Holland & Knight announced the opening of the Dallas office in a press release Monday. In addition to a dozen partners, the firm took 10 associate attorneys and one senior counsel from Patton. According to the release, the firm is expected to add more attorneys in the future.
Holland & Knight managing partner Steven Sonberg said in an interview that the opening of a Dallas office was a natural part of the firm's growth plan. The opportunity to add a team of financial and corporate attorneys to Holland & Knight’s ranks, Sonberg said, fit with building on practice strengths.
"We're able to marry two strategies: one geographic and one practice-focused," Sonberg said.
Chadwick said the partners in the group have worked together for decades.
"We have a terrific group of lawyers and our principle objective is what in the best interest of the clients," Chadwick said. "Holland & Knight approached me, and it became very clear that they have the same client focus and objectives that we do."
Sonberg said a consultant contacted Holland & Knight and presented the opportunity to connect with the attorneys from Patton Boggs.
"We feel that Jim and his group are a perfect fit in terms of our culture, and that is something that we hold in a very high level of importance in terms of what makes our firm successful," Sonberg said.
A Patton spokesman didn’t comment this morning about the partner moves. But last week, Patton Boggs confirmed the imminent departure of partners in three offices.
"Recently a number of attorneys at the firm announced their intention to move on," firm spokesman Elliott Frieder said in a written statement last week. "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."
On paper, 2012 was not a strong financial year for Patton Boggs. Revenue per lawyer and profits per partner fell 5.1 percent to $655,000 and 14.9 percent to $736,000, respectively. Gross revenue dropped 6.3 percent to $317.5 million.
Holland & Knight had a strong financial year in 2012. The firm reported increases in revenue per lawyer, profits per partner and gross revenue. Profits per partner were $950,000, an increase of 6.7 percent over the previous year.
In Washington, five partners recently left Patton Boggs. They are Henry Chajet, Ugo Colella, David Farber, R. Brian Hendrix and Robert Horn.
Colella, who focuses on business litigation, is joining Thompson Hine. In an interview, Colella said his business litigation practice includes torts to class actions. He described his practice as "bread-and-butter business disputes." Colella said he chose Thompson Hine in part because of the firm's emphasis on litigation.
"Over the last several years, the litigation landscape has changed dramatically and is much more competitive," Colella said. "I felt that Thompson Hine was really on the edge of that, to put themselves out in front of a competitive marketplace. There is a lot more opportunities to market and sell here than there was there. Their litigation department was going in a different direction and that prompted me to start looking around."
David Wilson, Thompson Hine's Washington partner-in-charge, said Colella's practice was a natural fit for the office and the firm.
"A lot of the regulatory practices have an element of administrative litigation to them," Wilson said. "Sometimes that spills over to federal court litigation. Ugo also has a significant case load of his own that he brings with him, which is a nice compliment to what we do."
Farber joins King & Spalding's Food and Drug Administration, life sciences and healthcare practices, according to a press release. He could not immediately be reached for comment. Farber is a litigator who practices in life sciences and healthcare regulatory matters.
"His regulatory experience complements our capabilities in those areas, and we believe his unique talents will be of great benefit to our clients," King & Spalding FDA and life sciences practice group leader Mark Brown said of Farber in a written statement.
Former Patton lawyer Mark Savit, who handled government investigations and regulatory matters in the firm’s Denver office, said in an email that he is leaving for the employment firm Jackson Lewis. Patton is left with 14 partners in the Denver office.