David Rogers, head of McDermott Will & Emery’s labor, employment and benefits practice, is leaving the firm and joining Winston & Strawn with a team of partners, a source with direct knowledge of the matter told Big Law Business.
Rogers, a member of the firm’s management and recent member of the executive committee in Washington, D.C., submitted his resignation notice to McDermott on Friday along with nine other partners, the source said.
Tom Fitzgerald, chair of Winston, did not respond to requests for comment Thursday.
Rogers, reached by cell phone, declined to comment.
The identity of the nine other partners who are said to be joining Rogers could not immediately be determined and the source declined to provide names other than the group’s leader, Rogers.
When contacted about the news of the departures, a McDermott spokeswoman issued a statement, wishing the departing lawyers well.
She said that the firm was “excited about the future of our employee benefits practice under its new leadership” and noted that the firm would announce new leadership team in the coming days.
The firm, with 977 lawyers, elected a new firm wide chair last year, the Miami-based health care corporate lawyer Ira Coleman, and his tenure officially began on Jan. 1.
Rogers was one of a handful of candidates considered for the position of chair, the source said. Others included Lazar Raynal, the former chair of litigation who has since joined Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, Sarah Chapin Columbia, chair of McDermott’s intellectual property practice, and David Taub, chair of the finance practice.
Since January, the firm has laid off or de-equitized several dozen partners firm-wide in various practices, including intellectual property and transactions, the source said. This included roughly two dozen capital (or equity) partners and 15 income partners. Additional layoffs and de-equitizations are still expected this year.
At the same time, the firm also formed an income partner committee to improve the productivity and integration of income partners and is currently rolling out a six-member associate committee to help decide associate bonuses.
Rogers was one of the most senior members of the firm’s partnership, and was said to disagree with at least some of the firm’s management decisions regarding de-equitizations and layoffs. Reached by phone, he did not dispute that it was a contentious departure but declined to add any detail.
Outside of his role as practice leader of the employee benefits group and as a member of the firm’s management committee and a member of the executive committee until November 2016, he also had served as co-partner-in-charge of McDermott’s Washington, D.C. office years ago.
His team’s departure brings the firm’s headcount in its employment benefits practice from 50 to 40 lawyers, according to the source.
McDermott ranked No. 36 in this year’s ranking of top grossing U.S. law firms in The American Lawyer, with $908.5 million in revenue — a 1.9 percent increase from the previous year. And it ranked No. 45 out of the most profitable U.S. law firms, with $1.6 million in average profits per partner, a 1.3 percent increase from the previous year.
McDermott is a full-service firm and its practices include tax, health care and corporate transactions.
UPDATED: This post has been amended to clarify that Rogers left the executive committee in 2016 and was no longer co-managing partner in D.C. at the time of his departure from the firm.