O’Melveny & Myers continues to be a fertile hunting ground.

Partners Robert “Bobby” Schwartz and Victor Jih joined the ranks of recent departures when they moved last week to the Century City office of Irell & Manella.

The moves come only a few months after Carla Christofferson, former managing partner of O’Melveny’s downtown L.A. office, left her post to join Century City engineering giant Aecom as executive vice president and general counsel.

Before that, O’Melveny took a big hit in November when longtime rival Latham & Watkins poached six entertainment partners, including Christopher Brearton, who had served as O’Melveny’s managing partner in Century City.

Schwartz, an entertainment and business litigator, said he had been mulling a move before his colleagues started leaving the firm, but added that their departures played a small role in his decision to join O’Melveny.

“I’d be kidding us if I said it wasn’t,” he said. “I’m sure on some subconscious level it probably told me that change can be good and there are other opportunities that one should at least consider.”

O’Melveny had little to say about the move last week.

“We wish them the best,” an O’Melveny spokeswoman said in a statement. “Our Century City-based trial lawyers will continue to handle the most cutting-edge, high-profile litigation matters, including in the entertainment industry, as part of one of the largest litigation teams in all of Southern California.”

The firm declined further comment.

Solana Beach legal recruiter Larry Watanabe, who helped coordinate last week’s move, said it’s rare to see so many prominent attorneys leave one firm in such a short period.

“At a minimum, it’s concerning,” Watanabe said. “O’Melveny can paint it any way they want to, but these are significant departures of people who, in many cases, held some sort of management role.”

O’Melveny’s recent financial performance, he said, likely contributed to some attorneys’ decision to part ways with the firm. Combined revenue from its 15 offices fell 9.3 percent last year to $665 million, the lowest level in more than a decade. Average profits per partner also slipped 8 percent last year to $1.59 million.

Irell, on the other hand, saw average profits per partner climb 8 percent last year to $3.63 million.

Jih, who specializes in complex litigation, said Schwartz has been his mentor since he began working at O’Melveny 19 years ago. That was a major factor in his move, but, he added, he also desired a fresh start.


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