While Ms. Hynes had stepped back in recent years from leading securities cases, she was widely seen as one of the Milberg Weiss’s most respected and even feared trial lawyers, said lawyers at plaintiff and defense firms.
In a statement, Melvyn I. Weiss, a founding member of Milberg Weiss, said yesterday that he wished Ms. Hynes “great success and happiness in the next phase of her illustrious career at the bar,” adding that she remained a friend and confidante. Ms. Hynes did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Milberg Weiss has struggled to keep lawyers, clients and crucial cases after a federal grand jury in Los Angeles indicted the firm and two of its name partners in May on criminal charges involving $11.3 million in illegal secret payments that were made to individuals who served as plaintiffs in more than 150 lawsuits over several years.
Since the indictment, several lawyers have left Milberg Weiss, including four partners who will be joining the Dreier law firm in New York in early September. As lawyers in other cities have joined other firms or started their own, Milberg Weiss has shut offices in Boca Raton, Fla., and Washington and will soon shut one in Delaware.
At Allen & Overy, Ms. Hynes will be reuniting with several former colleagues and friends. “We’ve known each other since the late 1970’s when we tried cases together in the U.S. attorney’s office,” said Pamela Chepiga, a partner with Allen & Overy.
Ms. Chepiga said the notion of Ms. Hynes’s moving to the defense side of the business was broached in June at a party held at Ms. Chepiga’s home for summer associates of Simpson Thatcher Bartlett, where the husbands of Ms. Chepiga and Ms. Hynes both work as lawyers.
As for questions of whether Ms. Hynes would struggle in a transition from representing shareholders to defending companies — a move lawyers do not typically make — many close to Ms. Hynes shrugged off those concerns.
“I don’t think the transition is an impossible one; if anyone has the ability, it is her,” said Bruce S. Kaplan with Friedman Kaplan Seiler & Adelman, who has opposed Ms. Kaplan in many cases over the years but considers her a friend.
Ms. Hynes grew up in Queens, attending Catholic schools before graduating from Queens College and the law school of Fordham University. When she joined the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan in 1967, she was the only woman on staff. She was named chief of the corruption unit in the late 1970’s.