The change in strategic direction for Irell & Manella, with a new focus upon high-stakes litigation, has seen three more partner departures – with more expected.
The change in direction for the firm has seen it abandoning transactional work in favor of litigation and two key LA M&A lawyers have gone to Simpson Thacher & Bartlett (Michael Kaplan and Gregory Klein), while Harry Mittleman has taken his commercial litigation work to Hueston Hennigan.
Irell’s head count has declined steadily since around 2009 when it had almost 200 lawyers. The firm now has 69 lawyers spread across two offices.
More departures are expected as the news of the firm’s strategic shift sinks in, said a current Irell lawyer, predicting it would take at least a year for the firm to shift into “growth mode,” according to a recent report in Law.com.
“This is a real tipping point, this is the direction we’re going in,” said the lawyer, speaking on condition of anonymity. “That’s why people are not going to be here in the future.”
The firm believes its future fortunes lie with its litigation practice, explaining in a statement that it won three nine-figure jury verdicts in the last three months.
Bloomberg Law report that an email from Irell’s executive committee member Jonathan Kagan explained the shift towards IP and complex business litigation matters.
“For more than a year Irell’s executive committee has been exploring a range of alternative business models and we concluded this focused strategy is the option,” Kagan’s email said.
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