In September 2011, Quinn partner Jon Corey moved from Los Angeles to lead the firm’s Washington office. At the same time, the firm also recruited partners Paul Brinkman, Alan Whitehurst and S. Alex Lasher, who each practice in the U.S. International Trade Commission, from Alston & Bird. William Burck last year left Weil, Gotshal & Manges to join Corey as co-manager of the Washington office.
Quinn lawyers have worked on a series of high-profile cases in the Washington metropolitan area. Earlier this year, Brinkman and California-based Quinn partner Charles Verhoeven, representing Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., prevailed in the International Trade Commission—securing a ban against the import of certain Apple Inc. products. (The Obama administration later overturned the Apple ban.)
In the white-collar defense arena, Quinn lawyers represent Kim Dotcom and Megaupload in a copyright infringement case. Quinn attorneys also represent Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell’s wife in an investigation concerning gifts. Quinn represented Steve Miller, former acting commissioner of the IRS, amid the contention that the agency was unfairly targeting conservative groups for review.
Legal Times sat down with Corey and Burck to discuss Quinn’s Washington office and future growth plans.
Legal Times: What went into the firm's decision to open a Washington office?
Jon Corey: It was always a place that we had thought about opening an office. The initial impetus to get the office open was the fact that we were doing so many trials in the ITC. For a long time, we just had attorneys here and then we were able to come to an agreement with Paul Brinkman and his group from Alston & Bird who we had worked with for years. We knew them very well and thought that was the right place to start.
LT: What went into building the Washington office?
William Burck: We have added about 56 lawyers in the course of 2 years. The legal market is generally not growing at that pace. Other than Jon and one or two associates, the people who are here are new lawyers to the firm, either laterals or young lawyers who have been brought in from law school or clerkships. It's not a transfer from other offices. It's really built from the ground up. The firm has always been focused on building organically, even though it's built largely on laterals. It started out as a much smaller firm in California. Now we're the largest litigation-only firm in the world. It's not built on acquiring practice groups like 15 to 20 lawyers. It's built on identifying individual lawyers who have a practice area and an expertise and a focus that would fit well with the firm's vision and with the ethos of the firm. In a lot of ways we could have grown faster than we have if we took a more traditional approach of acquiring practice groups. We don't do that. Nonetheless we have grown rapidly and we will continue to grow.
LT: What are the challenges of building an office from scratch?
Burck: As a relative newcomer to the firm, I think the secret to its success is that it attracts a certain type of litigator. Not only someone who has interest and experience in trial work, but also has a dedication to the practice, being a good lawyer and is a lot less interested in firm politics. A lot of the folks that we attract tend to be very successful at their firms, but might have felt somewhat constrained by or not comfortable with the political environment of most law firms. Our firm does away with all that. We don't have anything like the internal politics or bureaucracy that you see at most firms.
LT: I hear you're moving offices.
Corey: We're taking Cooley's old space on the other side of the Verizon center. (Cooley relocated its Washington office from 777 6th St. N.W. to 1299 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W. in January. Quinn moves at the end of the year.)
LT: Any plan for future growth?
Corey: There really is no set plan, but we will continue to talk to people who practice in the premium litigation areas and to the extent that we find good people, we would love to have them.
Burck: We're not looking to be a mega-litigation firm with every practice area under the sun. We're very much focused on the ones that can support a premium litigation practice. There are also certain practices that have a better fit than others. In D.C. a lot of what we're doing now we want to continue to expand in like the IP, white-collar practice, international arbitration and generally commercial litigation. We focus where we think we have strengths and where we have a lot to offer people as a platform.
Photo by The National Law Journal's Diego M. Radzinschi.