Boies Schiller Winds Down 20-Lawyer Corporate Practice

Photographer: Andrew Harrer

Boies Schiller & Flexner is disbanding its 20-lawyer corporate practice, the bulk of whom are headed for the larger competitor, Paul Hastings.

“It’s much more practical in today’s environment to have a boutique litigation shop than a boutique corporate practice,” said David Boies, the litigator who has run the 300-lawyer litigation law firm since he founded it in 1997.

In an interview, Boies said that the firm has been in discussions for the past 18 months with its corporate group, led by his son Chris, about the challenges facing its practice, given that it is smaller in size compared to competitors.

“You need to have a scope and scale that offers clients a broad spectrum of corporate expertise at the highest level,” said Boies.

On Tuesday, Paul Hastings announced that five Boies Schiller partners – Robert Leung, Mike Huang, Stefan dePozsgay, Jason Hill, and Russell Franklin – had joined the firm, which raked in $1 billion in revenue in 2015 and staffed 912 lawyers, according to The American Lawyer.

David Boies’ son Chris, who has led the Boies Schiller corporate department, is not joining Paul Hasting, but is expected to join an as of yet unnamed client.

“When Christopher joined me 20 years ago, he was an investment banker at Credit Suisse and I think he came to practice law in large part because we wanted to practice together,” said Boies. “He said a number of times that if he wasn’t practicing at our firm, he would be on the business side of things, so I think that rather than go to another firm, his intent was to go into a client on the business side.”

Chris Boies did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

David Boies said that the corporate group considered the possibility of solving its lack of scale by rapidly expanding the group through lateral hires and poaching from competitors, but ultimately decided it made more sense for the corporate practice to join another law firm.

Boies cited “the challenge of rapidly expanding and maintaining the high quality that is characterized by the firm” as one reason for the decision to part ways instead of building the Boies Schiller corporate practice through outside hires.

The corporate group’s decision to join another firm was made in September, he said, although the Paul Hastings offer surfaced only recently.

The corporate group represents roughly 10 percent of the firm’s business, Boies said. Although he did not provide financial figures, Boies Schiller’s 2015 revenue was reported to be $380 million, which means the corporate group posted about 10 percent or $38 million.

Seth Zachary, chair of Paul Hastings, said in a statement that the addition from Boies Schiller “reflects increasing client demand for help with large and complex cross-border transactions and capital flows.”

“This is among the growing strategic investments we make across the firm, including advancements in our M&A, Private Equity, and Latin America practices, and in growth areas such as Technology, Media, Entertainment, and Telecoms (TMET), Life Sciences, and Energy,” said Zachary.

Stefan G. dePozsgay has represented the NFL On Location, a partner of the NFL that offers customer benefits, on the expansion of ticketing and licensing rights to the Super Bowl, as well as on a number of acquisitions. Other clients have included Centerbridge Partners, Goldman Sachs & Co. and RedBird Capital Partners.

Robert Leung’s clients have included Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., Wynn Resorts, Goldman Sachs, Caithness Energy, among others, according to his firm biography.

Have any information about the move? Write to us at biglawbusiness@bna.com.

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