15 Partners to Depart Sedgwick

Fifteen partners are leaving Sedgwick, effective Jan. 31, the law firm announced on Wednesday.

The group includes the firm’s chair emeritus, Michael A. Tanenbaum, head of complex litigation, James H. Keale and managing partner of the firm’s New Jersey office, Thomas D. Robertson.

These partners, along with partners Chris Keale, Dennis Vega and Tiffany Alexander, will launch a litigation boutique, Tanenbaum Keale LLP, which includes 11 other lawyers and additional staff. The firm will have offices in New York and Newark.

It’s common for law firms to lose partners, but it’s rare for a law firm to see 15 partners pack up their things and depart at once, in two separate groups.

In addition to the boutique spinoff, Sedgwick said in a press release that nine partners would leave Sedgwick in Dallas to launch a regional office of another firm, though it did not identify partners or the other firm.

Sedgwick announced the moves as “adjustments to its legal teams for the year ahead.”

In an interview, Michael Healy, Sedgwick’s chair, said that “whenever a fiscal year ends, people depart,” and that the two groups leaving are unrelated. He said that the lawyers departing are not part of layoffs at Sedgwick.

“I’m good friends with the guys departing and we have a lot of common clients with them,” Healy said. “We’ve evaluated and we’re confident that we will be financially strong without them… We don’t think it will impact our overall profitability.”

Healy declined to share specific financial data.

In Sedgwick’s press release, Healy said: “We are working cooperatively with our departing partners to implement these changes. Our partnership — in fact, all of our lawyers — are bullish on the opportunities for Sedgwick in 2017. We will focus on our established competencies and serve our clients around the country from our international offices.”

James Keale, the 58-year-old head of complex litigation launching Tanenbaum Keale LLP, said, “We simply want to try a different environment.”

“We announced to the firm shortly ago that we were going to do this,” he said. “I would expect they are going to continue to do quite well. I have only high hopes for them.”

He declined to comment on other partners leaving.

Keale’s firm has announced that a number of clients are coming with them to their new boutique, Tanenbaum Keale LLP, which will have a practice focus of handling environmental mass tort cases, as well as product liability cases.

Boston Scientific, AMEC, Foster Wheeler, H.B. Fuller, General Electric, CBS Corporation, Caterpillar and Coach USA are among the clients that Keale said will come to the new firm.

Sedgwick, founded in 1933 as a two attorney firm in San Francisco, has expanded into a firm with around 300 lawyers. It has 11 U.S. offices, a London office, and an affiliated office in Bermuda.