Partner Shuffle Leaves New Look at Morgan Lewis

By AMANDA BRONSTAD
Staff Reporter

The Los Angeles office of Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP has started the year on spin cycle.

In the last couple of months, the 70-attorney office lost a partner and two associates in its business and finance department, let go three associates in its labor and employment group and hired three partners and an associate in its litigation department.

The changes come at a time when the office is in the midst of implementing a plan to boost several of its practices, especially litigation, said John Hartigan, managing partner of the L.A. office.

A big move in that direction came when three partners in the environmental litigation department of Los Angeles-based Weston Benshoof Rochefort Rubalcava & MacCuish LLP joined Morgan Lewis to beef up its environmental litigation practice.

"There are a handful (of people at Morgan Lewis) who deal with mass toxic tort types of cases, and that's where we fit into the puzzle," said former Weston Benshoof partner Tom Van Wyngarden. "We were brought on board in part to increase the depth of the litigation and environmental practice here in Los Angeles."

Van Wyngarden came with Tom Meador, former co-chairman of the environmental litigation department at Weston Benshoof, and former partner Kelly McTigue.

The three, who have worked together at Weston Benshoof for 10 years, also recruited one associate from their former firm and expect to hire four or five more.

The additions are offset in part by several departures.

At the end of January, one of Morgan Lewis' partners in the business and finance department, Barry Freeman, left to join the corporate department of Jeffer Mangels Butler & Marmaro LLP as a partner.

Two associates in the business and finance department also left around the same time, but Hartigan said their departures have nothing to do with Freeman and that the firm is looking to hire replacements.

Earlier in January, Morgan Lewis' local office also let go three associates in the labor and employment group for performance reasons, Hartigan said.

"There's always an ebb and flow of associates, sometimes because of the review process," he said.

The firm expects to have one associate hired soon and is looking to hire two more, Hartigan said.

The layoffs come months after Morgan Lewis cut 50 associates throughout the firm, including some in Los Angeles.

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